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Full text of "The uncommercial traveller"

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THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAYELLEE. 



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raCOMMEECIAL TRAVELLER 



BY 

CHARLES DICKENS. 



LONDON : 
CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY. 

MDCCCLXI. 



PREFACE. 



These papers have been received with very- 
great favour by the Public, and are here re- 
printed in a convenient form. The Series is, for 
the time, complete ; but it is the Uncommercial 
Traveller's intention to take to the road again 
before another mnter sets in. 

December^ 1860. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

I. — His Geneeal Line of Business 1 

II. — The Shipwheck .3 

III. — Wapping Workhouse 23 

IV. — Two Views of a Cheap Theatee . . . .40 

V. — Poor Mercantile Jack 57 

VI. — Refreshments for Travellers . . . .76 

VII. — Travelling Abroad 89 

VIII. — The Great Tasmania's Cargo 107 

IX. — City of London Churches 121 

X. — Shy Neighbourhoods 137 

XL— Tramps 152 

XII. — ^DULLBOROUGH TOWK 170 

XIIL—NiGHT Walks 186 

XIV.— Chambers 200 

XV. — Nurse's Stories 219 

XVI. — Arcadian London 236 

XVIL — The Italian Prisoner 250 



THE 



? 



UNCOfflEKCIAL TRAVELLEE. 



I. 



HIS GENERAL LINE OF BUSINESS. 



Allow me to introduce myself — first negatively. 

No landlord is my friend and brother, no chamber- 
maid loves me, no waiter worships me, no boots admires 
and envies me. No round of beef or tongue or ham is 
expressly cooked for me, no pigeon-pie is especially made 
for me, no hotel-advertisement is personally addressed to 
me, no hotel-room tapestried with great-coats and rail- 
way wrappers is set apart for me, no house of public 
entertainment in the United Kingdom greatly cares for 
my opinion of its brandy or sherry. When I go upon 
my journeys, I am not usually rated at a low figure in 
the bill ; when I come home from my journeys, I never 
get any commission. I know nothing about prices, and 
should have no idea, if I were put to it, how to wheedle 

B 



2 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLEE. 

a man into ordering something lie doesn't want. As a 
town traveller, I am never to be seen driving a vehicle 
externally like a young and volatile pianoforte van, and 
internally like an oven in which a nnmber of flat boxes 
are baking in layers. As a country traveller, I am 
rarely to be found in a gig, and am never to be encoun- 
tered by a pleasure train, waiting on the platform of a 
branch station, quite a Druid in the midst of a light 
Stonehenge of samples. 

And yet — proceeding now, to introduce myself posi- 
tively — I am both a town traveller and a country tra- 
veller, and am always on the road. Figuratively speaking, 
I travel for the great house of Human Interest Brothers, 
and have rather a large connexion in the fancy goods 
way. Literally speaking, I am always wandering here 
and there from my rooms in Covent-garden, London — 
now about the city streets : now, about the country bye- 
roads — seeing many little things, and some great things, 
which, because they interest me, I think may interest 
others. 

These are my brief credentials as the Uncommercial 
Traveller. 



A BAY ON THE CO^iST OF T^ALES. 



n. 



THE SHIPWBECK. 



Never had I seen a year going out, or going on, 
under quieter circumstances. Eighteen hundred and 
fifty-nine had but another day to hve, and truly its end 
was Peace on that sea-shore that morning. 

So settled and orderly was everything seaward, in the 
bright hght of the sun and under the transparent sha- 
dows of the clouds, that it was hard to imagine the bay 
otherwise, for years past or to come, than it was that 
very day. The Tug-steamer lying a httle ojff the shore, 
the Lighter lying still nearer to the shore, the boat 
alongside the Lighter, the regularly turning windlass 
aboard the Lighter, the methodical figures at work, all 
slowly and regularly heaving up and down with the 
breathing of the sea, all seemed as much a part of the 
nature of the place as the tide itself. The tide was on 
the flow, and had been for some two hours and a half ; 
there was a slight obstruction in the sea within a few 
yards of my feet : as if the stump of a tree, with earth 
enough about it to keep it from lying horizontally on the 
water, had shpped a little from the land — and as I stood 
upon the beach and observed it dimpling the light swell 
that was coming in, I ca^t a stone over it. 

b2 



4 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

So orderly, so quiet, so regular — the rising and falling 
of the Tug-steamer, the Lighter, and the boat — ^the turn- 
ing of the windlass — the coming in of the tide — that I 
myself seemed, to my own thinking, anything but new 
to the spot. Yet, I had never seen it in my life, a 
minute before, and had traversed two hundred miles to 
get at it. That very morning I had come bowling down, 
and struggling up, hill-country roads ; looking back at 
snowy summits ; meeting courteous peasants, well to do, 
driving fat pigs and cattle to market ; noting the neat 
and thrifty dwellings, with their unusual quantity of 
clean white linen, drying on the bushes ; having windy 
weather suggested by every cotter's little rick, mth its 
thatched straw-ridged and extra straw-ridged into over- 
lapping compartments, like the back of a rhinoceros. 
Had I not given a lift of fourteen miles to the Coast- 
Guardsman (kit and all), who was coming to his spell of 
duty there, and had we not just now parted company ? 
So it was ; but the journey seemed to glide down into 
the placid sea, with other chafe and trouble, and for the 
moment nothing was so calmly and monotonously real 
under the sunlight as the gentle rising and falling of the 
water with its freight, the regular turning of the wind- 
lass aboard the Lighter, and the slight obstruction so 
very near my feet. 

O reader, haply turning this page by the fireside at 
Home and hearing the night wind rumble in the chim- 
ney, that slight obstruction was the uppermost fragment 
of the Wreck of the Eoyal Charter, Australian trader 
and passenger ship, Homeward bound, that struck here on 
the terrible morning of the twenty-sixth of this Oc- 



BLOWN OUT OF BED. 5 

tober, broke into three parts, went down with her treasure 
of at least five hundred human Hves, and has never stirred 
since ! 

From which point, or from which, she drove ashore, 
stern foremost ; on which side, or on which, she passed 
the httle Island in the bay, for ages henceforth to be 
agromid certain yards outside her; these are rendered 
bootless questions by the darkness of that night and the 
darkness of death. Here she went down. 

Even as I stood on the beach, with the words " Here 
she went down !" in my ears, a diver in his grotesque 
dress, dipped heavily over the side of the boat alongside 
the Lighter, and dropped to the bottom. On the shore 
by the water's edge, was a rough tent, made of fragments 
of wreck, where other divers and workmen sheltered 
themselves, and where they had kept Christmas-day with 
rum and roast beef, to the destruction of their frail chim- 
ney. Cast up among the stones and boulders of the 
beach, were great spars of the lost vessel, and masses of 
iron twisted by the fury of the sea into the strangest 
forms. The timber was already bleached and iron rusted, 
and even these objects did no violence to the prevailing 
air the whole scene wore, of having been exactly the same 
for years and years. 

Yet, only two short months had gone, since a man, 
living on the nearest hill-top overlooking the sea, being 
blown out of bed at about daybreak by the wind that 
had begun to strip his roof off, and getting upon a ladder 
with his nearest neighbour to construct some temporary 
device for keeping his house over his head, saw from the 
ladder's elevation as he looked down by chance towards 



6 THE UlfCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

the shore, some dark troubled object close in with the 
land. And he and the other, descending to the beach, 
and finding the sea mercilessly beating over a great 
broken ship, had clambered up the stony ways, like stair- 
cases without stairs, on which the ^m\d village hangs in 
little clusters, as fruit hangs on boughs, and had given 
the alarm. And so, over the hill-slopes, and past the 
waterfall, and down the guUies where the land drains off 
into the ocean, the scattered quarrymen and fishermen 
inhabiting that part of Wales had come running to the 
dismal sight— their clergy-man among them. And as 
they stood in the leaden morning, stricken with pity, 
leaning hard against the wind, their breath and vision 
often failing as the sleet and spray rushed at them from 
the ever forming and dissolving mountains of sea, and 
as the wool which was a part of the vessel's cargo blew 
in with the salt foam and remained upon the land when 
the foam melted, they saw the ship's Ufe-boat put off 
from one of the heaps of wreck ; and first, there were 
three men in her, and in a moment she capsized, and 
there were but two; and again, she was struck by a vast 
mass of water, and there was but one ; and again, she 
was thrown bottom upward, and that one, with his arm 
struck through the broken planks and waving as if for 
the help that could never reach him, went down into the 
deep. 

It was the clergyman himself from whom I heard this, 
while I stood on the shore, looking in his kind wholesome 
face as it turned to the spot where the boat had been. 
The divers were down then, and busy. They were "lift- 
ing" to-day, the gold found yesterday— some five-and- 



THE BODIES OE THE DIiO^\^ED. 



twenty thousand pounds. Of three hundred and fifty 
thousand pounds' worth of gold, three hundred thousand 
pounds' worth, in round numbers, was at that time reco- 
vered. The great bulk of the remainder was surely and 
steadily coming up. Some loss of sovereigns there would 
be, of course ; indeed, at first sovereigns had drifted in 
with the sand, and been scattered far and wide over the 
beach, like sea-shells; but most other golden treasure 
would be found. As it was brought up, it went aboard 
the Tug steamer, where good account was taken of it. 
So tremendous had the force of the sea been when it 
broke the ship, that it had beaten one great ingot of gold, 
deep into a strong and heavy piece of her solid iron- 
work: in. which, also, several loose sovereigns that the 
ingot had swept in before it, had been found, as firmly 
embedded as though the iron had been liquid when they 
were forced there. It had been remarked of such bodies 
come ashore, too, as had been seen by scientific men, that 
they had been stunned to death, and not suffocated. Ob- 
servation, both of the internal change that had been 
wrought in them, and of their external expression, showed 
death to have been thus merciful and easy. The report 
was brought, w^hile I was holding such discourse on the 
beach, that no more bodies had come ashore since last 
night. It began to be very doubtful whether many more 
would be thrown up, until the north-east winds of the 
early spring set in. Moreover, a great number of the 
passengers,*and particularly the second-class women-pas- 
sengers, were known to have been in the middle of the 
ship when she parted, and thus the collapsing wreck 
would have fallen upon them after yawning open, and 



8 THE UNCOMMEKCIAL TRAVELLER. 

would keep them down. A diver made known, even 
then, that he had come upon the body of a man, and 
had sought to release it from a great superincumbent 
weight; but that, finding he could not do so without 
mutilating the remains, he had left it where it was. 

It was the kind and wholesome face I have made men- 
tion of as being then beside me, that I had purposed to 
myself to see, when I left home for Wales. I had heard 
of that clergyman, as having buried many scores of the 
ship^^Tccked people ; of his having opened his house and 
heart to their agonised friends; of his having used a 
most sweet and patient dihgence for wrecks and weeks, in 
the performance of the forlornest offices that Man can 
render to his kind; of his having most tenderly and 
thoroughly devoted himself to the dead, and to those 
who were sorromng for the dead. I had said to 
myself, '' In the Christmas season of the year, I should 
like to see that man !" And he had swung the gate of 
his little garden in coming out to meet me, not half an 
hour ago. 

So cheerful of spirit, and guiltless of affectation, as 
true practical Christianity ever is ! I read more of the 
New Testament in the fresh frank face going up the 
village beside me, in five minutes, than I have read in 
anathematising discourses (albeit put to press with enor- 
mous flourishing of trumpets), in all my life. I heard 
more of the Sacred Book in the cordial voice that had 
nothing to say about its owner, than in all the would-be 
celestial pah's of bellows that have ever blown conceit 
at me. 

We climbed towards the little chm'ch, at a cheery 



MOELFRA CHURCH. 9 

pace, among the loose stones, the deep mud, the wet 
coarse grass, the outlying water, and other obstructions 
from which frost and snow had lately thawed. It was a 
mistake (my friend was glad to tell me, on the way) to 
suppose that the peasantry had shown any superstitious 
avoidance of the drowned ; on the whole, they had done 
very well, and had assisted readily. Ten shillings had 
been paid for the bringing of each body up to the church, 
but the way was steep, and a horse and cart (in which it 
was wrapped in a sheet) were necessary, and three or 
four men, and, all things considered, it was not a great 
price. The people were none the richer for the wreck, 
for it was the season of the herring-shoal — and who could 
cast nets for fish, and find dead men and women in the 
draught ? 

He had the church keys in his hand, and opened the 
churchyard gate, and opened the church door ; and we 
went in. 

It is a little church of great antiquity ; there is reason 
to believe that some church has occupied the spot, these 
thousand years or more. The pulpit was gone, and other 
things usually belonging to the church were gone, owing 
to its living congregation having deserted it for the neigh- 
bouring schoolroom, and yielded it up to the dead. The 
very Commandments had been shouldered out of their 
places, in the bringing in of the dead ; the black wooden 
tables on which they were painted, were askew, and on 
the stone pavement below them, and on the stone pave- 
ment all over the church, were the marks and stains 
where the drowned had been laid down. The eye, with 
little or no aid from the imagination, could yet see how 



10 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

the bodies had been turned, and where the head had been 
and where the feet. Some faded traces of the T^Teck of 
the Anstrahan ship may be discernible on the stone pave- 
ment of this little church, hundreds of years hence, when 
the digging for gold in Australia shall have long and long 
ceased out of the land. 

Forty-four ship^ATecked men and women lay here at 
one time, awaiting burial. Here, w ith weeping and wail- 
ing in every room of his house, my companion worked 
alone for hours, solemnly surrounded by eyes that could 
not see him, and by hps that could not speak to him, 
patiently examining the tattered clothing, cutting off 
buttons, hair, marks from Knen, anything that might lead 
to subsequent identification, studying faces, looking for 
a scar, a bent finger, a crooked toe, comparing letters 
sent to him with the ruin about him. "My dearest 
brother had bright grey eyes and a pleasant smile," one 
sister wTote. O poor sister ! well for you to be far from 
here, and keep that as your last remembrance of him ! 

The ladies of the clergyman's family, his wife and two 
sisters-in-law, came in among the bodies often. It grew 
to be the business of their lives to do so. Any new ar- 
rival of a bereaved woman would stimulate their pity to 
compare the description brought, with the dread realities. 
Sometimes, they would go back, able to say, " I have 
found him," or, " I think she lies there." Perhaps, the 
mourner, unable to bear the sight of all that lay in the 
church, would be led in bhndfold. Conducted to the 
spot with many compassionate words, and encouraged to 
look, she would say, with a piercing cry, " This is my 
boy !" and drop insensible on the insensible figure. 



RELICS OF THE DEAD. 11 

He soon observed that in some cases of women, the 
identification of persons, though complete, was quite at 
variance with the marks upon the linen ; this led him to 
notice that even the marks upon the linen were some- 
times inconsistent with one another ; and thus he came 
to understand that they had dressed in great haste and 
agitation, and that their clothes had become mixed to- 
gether. The identification of men by their dress, was 
rendered extremely difficult, in consequence of a large 
proportion of them being dressed alike — in clothes of one 
kind, that is to say supplied by slopsellers and outfitters, 
and not made by single garments but by hundreds. 
Many of the men were bringing over parrots, and had 
receipts upon them for the price of the birds ; others had 
bills of exchange in their pockets, or in belts. Some of 
these documents, carefully unwrinkled and dried, were 
little less fresh in appearance that day, than the present 
page will be under ordinary circumstances, after having 
been opened three or four times. 

In that lonely place, it had not been easy to obtain 
even such common commodities in towns, as ordinary 
disinfectants. Pitch had been burnt in the church, as 
the readiest thing at hand, and the frying-pan in which 
it had bubbled over a brazier of coals was still there, 
with its ashes. Hard by the Communion-Table, were 
some boots that had been taken off the drowned and 
preserved — a gold-digger's boot, cut down the leg for its 
removal — a trodden-down man's ankle-boot with a buff 
cloth top — and others — soaked and sandy, weedy and 
salt. 

From the church, we passed out into the churchyard. 



12 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

Here, there lay, at that time, one hundred and forty -five 
bodies, that had come ashore from the wreck. He had 
buried them, when not identified, in graves containing 
four each. He had numbered each body in a register 
describing it, and had placed a corresponding number 
on each coffin, and over each grave. Identified bodies 
he had buried singly, in private graves, in another part 
of the churchyard. Several bodies had been exhumed 
from the graves of four, as relatives had come from a 
distance and seen his register; and, when recognised, 
these have been reburied in private graves, so that the 
mourners might erect separate headstones over the re- 
mains. In all such cases he had performed the funeral 
service a second time, and the ladies of his house had 
attended. There had been no offence in the poor ashes 
when they were brought again to the light of day ; the 
beneficent Earth had already absorbed it. The drowned 
were buried in their clothes. To supply the great sudden 
demand for coffins, he had got all the neighbouring people 
handy at tools, to work the livelong day, and Sunday 
likewise. The coffins were neatly formed ; — ^I had seen two, 
waiting for occupants, under the lee of the ruined walls 
of a stone hut on the beach, within call of the tent where 
the Christmas Feast was held. Similarly, one of the 
graves for four was lying open and ready, here, in the 
churchyard. So much of the scanty space was already 
devoted to the wrecked people, that the villagers had 
begun to express uneasy doubts whether they themselves 
could lie in their own ground, with their forefathers and 
descendants, by-and-by. The churchyard being but a 
step from the clergyman's dwelling-house, we crossed to 



THE GOOD SAMARITAN. 13 

the latter ; the white surphce was hanging up near the 
door ready to be put on at any time, for a funeral 
service. 

The cheerful earnestness of this good Christian 
minister was as consolatory^ as the circumstances out of 
which it shone were sad. I never have seen anything 
more delightfully genuine than the calm dismissal by 
himself and his household of all they had undergone^ as 
a simple duty that was quietly done and ended. In 
speaking of it, they spoke of it with great compassion for 
the bereaved; but laid no stress upon their own hard 
share in those weary weeks, except as it had attached 
many people to them as friends, and elicited many 
touching expressions of gratitude. This clergyman's 
brother — himself the clergyman of two adjoining parishes, 
who had buried thirty-four of the bodies in his own 
chm'chyard, and w^ho had done to them all that his 
brother had done as to the larger number — must be un- 
derstood as included in the family. He was there, v/ith 
his neatly arranged papers, and made no more account of 
his trouble than anybody else did. Down to yesterday's 
post outward, my clergjTuan alone had written one thou- 
sand and seventy-five letters to relatives and friends of 
the lost people. In the absence of self-assertion, it was 
only through my now and then delicately putting a 
question as the occasion arose, that I became informed 
of these things. It was only when I had remarked 
again and again, in the church, on the awful nature of 
the scene of death he had been required so closely to 
familiarise himself with for the soothing of the living, 
that he had casually said, without the least abatement of 



14 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

his cheerfulness, "indeed, it had rendered him miable 
for a time to eat or drink more than a httle coffee now 
and then, and a piece of bread." 

In this noble modesty, in this beautiful simplicity, in 
this serene avoidance of the least attempt to "improve" 
an occasion which might be supposed to have sunk of its 
own weight into my heart, I seemed to have happily 
come, in a few steps, from the churchyard with its open 
grave, which was the type of Death, to the Christian 
dwelling side by side mth it, which was the t3rpe of Ee- 
surrection. I never shall think of the former, without 
the latter. The two will always rest side by side in my 
memor}^ If I had lost any one dear to me in this un- 
fortunate ship, if I had made a voyage from Austraha to 
look at the grave in the churchyard, I should go away, 
thankful to GoD that that house was so close to it, and 
that its shadow by day and its domestic lights by night 
fell upon the earth in which its Master had so tenderly 
laid my dear one's head. 

The references that naturally arose out of our conver- 
sation, to the descriptions sent down of shipwrecked per- 
sons, and to the gratitude of relations and friends, made 
me very anxious to see some of those letters. I was pre- 
sently seated before a shipwreck of papers, all bordered 
with black, and from them I made the following few 
extracts. 

A mother writes : 

Eeyeeend Sie. Amongst the many who perished on 
your shore was numbered my beloved son. I was only just 
recovering from a severe illness, and this fearful affliction has 
caused a relapse, so that I am unable at present to go to 



AFFECTING LETTERS. 15 

identify the remains of the loved and lost. My darling son 
would have been sixteen on Christmas- day next. He was a 
most amiable and obedient child, early taught the way of 
salvation. We fondly hoped that as a British seaman he 
might be an ornament to his profession, but, " it is well ;" I 
feel assured my dear boy is now with the redeemed. Oh, he 
did not wish to go this last voyage ! On the fifteenth of 
October, I received a letter from him from Melbourne, date 
August twelfth ; he wrote in high spirits, and in conclusion 
he says ; " Pray for a fair breeze, dear mamma, and I'll not 
forget to whistle for it ! and, God permitting, I shall see you 
and all my little pets again. Good-by, dear mother — good- 
by, dearest parents. Good-by, dear brother." Oh, it was 
indeed an eternal farewell. I do not apologise for thus 
writing you, for oh, my heart is so very sorrowful. 

A husband writes : 

Mt dear kind Sie. "Will you kindly inform me whether 
there are any initials upon the ring and guard you have in 
possession, found, as the Standard says, last Tuesday ? Be- 
lieve me, my dear sir, when I say that I cannot express my 
deep gratitude in words sufficiently for your kindness to me 
on that fearful and appalling day. Will you tell me what I 
can do for you, and will you write me a consoling letter to 
prevent my mind from going astray ? 

A widow writes : 

Left in such a state as I am, my friends and I thought it 
best that my dear husband should be buried where he lies, 
and, much as I should have liked to have had it otherwise, I 
must submit. I feel, from all I have heard of you, that you 
will see it done decently and in order. Little does it signify 
to us, when the soul has departed, where this poor body lies, 
but we who are left behind would do all we can to show how 
we loved them. This is denied me, but it is God's hand that 
afflicts us, and I try to submit. Some day I may be able to 



16 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

visit the spot, and see where he lies, and erect a simple stone 
to his memory. Oh ! it will be long, long before I forget 
that dreadful night ! Is there such a thing in the vicinity, or 
any shop in Bangor, to which I could send for a small picture 
of Moelfra or Llanallgo church, a spot now sacred to me ? 

Another widow writes : 

I have received your letter this morning, and do thank you 
most kindly for the interest you have taken about my dear 
husband, as well for the sentiments yours contains, evinc- 
ing the spirit of a Christian who can sympathise with those 
who, like myself, are broken down with grief. 

May Grod bless and sustain you, and all in connexion with 
you, in this great trial. Time may roll on and bear all its 
sons away, but your name as a disinterested person will 
stand in history, and, as successive years pass, many a widow 
will think of your noble conduct, and the tears of gratitude 
flow down many a cheek, the tribute of a thankful heart, 
when other things are forgotten for ever. 

A father writes : 

I am at a loss to find words to sufficiently express my 
gratitude to you for your kindness to my son Eichard upon 
the melancholy occasion of his visit to his dear brother's 
body, and also for your ready attention in pronouncing our 
beautiful burial service over my poor unfortunate son's re- 
mains. Grod grant that your prayers over him may reach the 
Mercy Seat, and that his soul may be received (through 
Christ's intercession) into heaven ! 

His dear mother begs me to convey to you her heartfelt 
thanks. 

Those w^ho were received at the clergyman's house, 

WTite thus, after leaving it : 

Deae and never-to-be-foegotten Feiends. I arrived 
here yesterday morning without accident, and am about to 
proceed to my home by railway. 



LETTERS CONTINUED. 17 

I am overpowered when I think of you and your hospitable 
home. No words could speak language suited to my heart. 
I refrain. God reward you with the same measure you have 
meted with ! 

I enumerate no names, but embrace you all. 

My beloved Feiends. This is the first da/ that I have 
been able to leave my bedroom since I returned, which will 
explain the reason of my not writing sooner. 

If I could only have had my last melancholy hope realised 
in recovering the body of my beloved and lamented son, I 
should have returned home somewhat comforted, and I think 
I could then have been comparatively resigned. 

I fear now there is but little prospect, and I mourn as one 
without hope. 

The only consolation to my distressed mind is in having 
been so feelingly allowed by you to leave the matter in your 
hands, by whom I well know that everything will be done 
that can be, according to arrangements made before I left 
the scene of the awful catastrophe, both as to the identi- 
fication of my dear son, and also his interment. 

I feel most anxious to hear whether anything fresh has 
transpired since I left you ; will you add another to the many 
deep obligations I am under to you by writing to me ? And, 
should the body of my dear and unfortunate son be identi- 
fied, let me hear from you immediately, and I will come 
again. 

Words cannot express the gratitude I feel I owe to you 
all for your benevolent aid, your kindness, and your sym- 
pathy. 

Mt deablt beloved Feiends. I arrived in safety at my 
house yesterday, and a night's rest has restored and tran- 
quillised me. I must again repeat, that language has no 
words by which I can express my sense of obligation to you 
Tou are enshrined in my heart of hearts. 

c 



18 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

I have seen him ! and can now realise my misfortune more 
than I have hitherto been able to do. Oh, the bitterness of 
the cup I drink ! But I bow submissive. Grod must have 
done right. I do not want to feel less, but to acquiesce more 
simply. 

There were some Jewish passengers on board the Eoyal 
Charter, and the gratitude of the Jewdsh people is feel- 
ingly expressed in the following letter, bearing date from 
" the office of the Chief Kabbi :" 

Eeveeeis'd Sie. I cannot refrain from expressing to you 
my heartfelt thanks on behalf of those of my flock whose 
relatives have unfortunately been among those who perished 
at the late wreck of the Eoyal Charter. Tou have, indeed, 
like Eoaz, " not left off your kindness to the living and the 
dead." 

Tou have not alone acted kindly towards the living by re- 
ceiving them hospitably at your house, and energetically 
assisting them in their mournful duty, but also towards the 
dead, by exerting yourself to have our co-religionists buried 
in our ground, and according to our rites. May our hea- 
venly Eather reward you for your acts of huma»ity and true 
philanthropy ! 

The '' Old Hebrew congregation of Liverpool " thus 
express themselves through their secretary : 

Eeveeekd Sie. The wardens of this congregation have 
learned with great pleasure that, in addition to those inde- 
fatigable exertions, at the scene of the late disaster to the 
Eoyal Charter, which have received universal recognition, 
you have very benevolently employed your valuable efforts 
to assist such members of our faith as have sought the bodies 
of lost friends to give them burial in our consecrated grounds. 



DEAD SECKETS. 19 

with the observances and rites prescribed by the ordinances 
of our religion. 

The wardens desire me to take the earliest available op- 
portunity to offer to you, on behalf of our community, the 
expression of their warm acknowledgments and grateful 
thanks, and their sincere wishes for your continued welfare 
and prosperity. 

A Jew^ish gentleman writes : f 

Eeverend and Dear Sib. I take the opportunity of 
thanking you right earnestly for the promptness you dis- 
played in answering my note with full particulars concerning 
my much-lamented brother, and I also herein beg to express 
my sincere regard for the willingness you displayed and for 
the facility you afforded for getting the remains of my poor 
brother exhumed. It has been to us a most sorrowful and 
painful event, but when we meet with such friends as your- 
self, it in a measure, somehow or other, abates that mental 
anguish, and makes the suffering so much easier to be borne. 
Considering the circumstances connected with my poor bro- 
ther's fate, it does, indeed, appear a hard one. He had been 
away in all seven years ; he returned four years ago to see 
his family. He was then engaged to a very amiable young 
ladv. He had been very successful abroad, and was now re- 
turning to fulfil his sacred vow ; he brought all his property 
with him in gold uninsured. We heard from him when the 
ship stopped at Queenstown, when he was in the highest of 
hope, and in a few short hours afterwards all was washed 
away. 

Mournful in the deepest degree, but too sacred for 
quotation here, ^vere the numerous references to those 
miniatures of women worn round the necks of rough 
men (and found there after death), those locks of hair, 
those scraps of letters, those many many slight memorials 

c2 



20 THE LXCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

of hidden tenderness. One man cast up by the sea bore 
about hhu, printed on a perforated lace card, the follow- 
ing singular (and unavaiHng) charm : 

A BLESSIXO. 

May the blessing of G-od await thee. May the sun of 
glory shine around tliy bed ; and may the gates of plenty, 
honour, and happiness be ever open to thee. May no sorrow 
distress thy days ; may no grief disturb thy nights. May 
the pillow of peace kiss thy cheek, and the pleasures of 
imagination attend thy dreams ; and when length of years 
makes thee tired of earthly joys, and the curtain of death 
gently closes around thy last sleep of human existence, may 
the Angel of Grod attend thy bed, and take care that the ex- 
piring lamp of life shall not receive one rude blast to hasten 
on its extinction. 

A sailor had these devices on his right arm. " Our 
Saviour on the Cross, the forehead of the Crucifix and 
the vesture stained red ; on the lower part of the arm, a 
man and woman ; on one side of the Cross, the appear- 
ance of a half moon, with a face ; on the other s de, the 
sun ; on the top of the Cross, the letters I.H.S. ; on the 
left arm, a man and woman dancing, with an effort to 
delineate the female's dress ; under which, initials." 
Another seaman "had, on the lower part of the right 
arm, the device of a sailor and a female ; the man hold- 
ing the Union Jack with a streamer, the folds of which 
waved over her head, and the end of it was held in her 
hand. On the upper part of the arm, a device of Our 
Lord on the Cross, with stars surrounding the head of 
the Cross, and one large star on the side in Indian ink. 
On the left arm, a flag, a true lovers' knot, a face, and 



FAREWELL TO THE GOOD FAMILY. 21 

initials." This tattooing was found still plain, below the 
discoloured outer surface of a mutilated arm, when such 
surface was carefully scraped away with a knife. It is 
not improbable that the perpetuation of this marking 
custom among seamen, may be referred back to their 
desire to be identified, if drowned and flung ashore. 

It was some time before I could sever myself from the 
many interesting papers on the table, and then I broke 
bread and drank wine with the kind family before I left 
them. As I brought the Coast-guard down, so I took 
the Postman back, with his leathern wallet, walking- 
stick, bugle, and temer dog. Many a heart-broken 
letter had he brought to the Rectory House within two 
months ; many a benignantly painstaking answer had* he 
carried back. 

As I rode along, I thought of the many people, inha- 
bitants of this mother country, who would make pilgrim- 
ages to the little churchyard in the years to come; I 
thought of the many people in Australia, who would 
have an interest in such a ship^vreck, and would find 
their way here when they visit the Old World ; I thought 
of the writers of all the wreck of letters I had left upon 
the table ; and I resolved to place this little record where 
it stands. Convocations, Conferences, Diocesan Epistles, 
and the like, will do a great deal for Religion, I dare say, 
and Heaven send they may ! but I doubt if they will 
ever do their Master's service half so well, in all the time 
they last, as the Heavens have seen it done in this bleak 
spot upon the rugged coast of Wales. ^ 

Had I lost the friend of my life, in the wreck of the 



22 THE UXCOIiOIERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

Royal Charter ; had I lost my betrothed, the more than 
friend of my life ; had I lost my maiden daughter, had I 
lost my hopeful boy, had I lost my little child ; I would 
kiss the hands that worked so busily and gently in the 
church, and say, "None better could have touched the 
form, though it had lain at home." I could be sure of 
it, I could be thankful for it : I could be content to leave 
the grave near the house the good family pass in and out 
of eveiy day, undistiu'bed, in the httle churchyard where 
so many are so strangely brought together. 

Without the name of the clergjinan to whom — I hope, 
not without canying comfort to some heart at some time 
— I have referred, my reference would be as nothing. 
He is the Reverend Stephen Roose Hughes, of Llan- 
allgo, near Moelfra, Anglesey. His brother is the Re- 
verend Hugh Robert Hughes, of Penrhos Alhgr^y. 



STEOLLIXG EASTWARD. 23 



in. 



WAPPING WORKHOUSE. 



My day's no-business beckoning me to the East end 
of London, I had turned my face to that point of the 
metropoUtan compass on leaving Covent Garden, and 
had got past the India House, thinking in my idle 
manner of Tippoo-Sahib and Charles Lamb, and had got 
past my httle wooden midshipman, after affectionately 
patting him on one leg of his knee-shorts for old ac- 
quaintance' sake, and had got past Aldgate Pump, and 
had got past the Saracen's Head (with an ignominious 
rash of posting-bills disfiguring his swarthy countenance), 
and had strolled up the empty yard of his ancient neigh- 
bour the Black or Blue Boar, or Bull, who departed this 
life I don't know when, and whose coaches are all gone 
I don't know where ; and I had come out again into the 
age of railways, and I had got past Whitechapel Church, 
and was — rather inappropriately for an Uncommercial 
Traveller — in the Commercial Eoad. Pleasantly wal- 
lowinor in the abundant mud of that thorouo-hfare, and 



24 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

greatly enjoying the huge piles of building belonging to 
the sugar refiners, the little masts and vanes in small 
back gardens in back streets, the neighbouring canals 
and docks, the India-vans lumbering along their stone 
tramway, and the pawnbrokers' shops where hard-up 
Mates had pa^yned so many sextants and quadrants, that 
I should have bought a few cheap if I had the least 
notion how to use them, I at last began to file off to the 
right, towards Wapping. 

Not that I intended to take boat at Wapping Old 
Stairs, or that I w^as going to look at the locality, because 
I beheve (for I don't) in the constancy of the young 
woman who told her sea-going lover, to such a beautiful 
old tune, that she had ever continued the same, since she 
gave him the 'baccer-box marked with his name ; I am 
afraid he usually got the worst of those transactions, and 
was frightfully taken in. No, I was going to Wapping, 
because an Eastern police magistrate had said, through 
the morning papers, that there was no classification at 
the Wapping workhouse for w^omen, and that it was a 
disgrace and a shame and divers other hard names, and 
because I wished to see how the fact really stood. For, 
that Eastern pohce magistrates are not always the wisest 
men of the East, may be inferred from their course of 
procedure respecting the fancy-dressing and pantomime- 
posturing at St. George's in that quarter : which is usually, 
to discuss the matter at issue, in a state of mind be- 
tokening the weakest perplexity, with all parties con- 
cerned and unconcerned, and, for a final expedient, to 
consult the complainant as to what he thinks ought to be 



MR. baker's trap. 25 

done with the defendant, and take the defendant's opi- 
nion as to what he would recommend to be done with 
himself. 

Long before I reached Wapping, I gave myself up as 
having lost my way, and, abandoning myself to the narrow 
streets in a Turkish frame of mind, relied on predestina- 
tion to bring me somehow or other to the place I wanted 
if I were ever to get there. When I had ceased for an 
hour or so to take any trouble about the matter, I found 
myself on a swing-bridge, looking down at some dark 
locks in some dirty water. Over against me, stood a 
creature remotely in the likeness of a young man, mth 
a puffed sallow face, and a figure all dirty and shiny and 
slimy, who may have been the youngest son of his filthy 
old father, Thames, or the drowned man about whom 
there was a placard on the granite post like a large thimble, 
that stood between us. 

I asked this apparition what it called the place ? Unto 
which, it rephed, with a ghastly grin and a sound like 
gurgling water in its throat : 

"Mister Baker's trap." 

As it is a point of great sensitiveness with me on such 
occasions to be equal to the intellectual pressure of the 
conversation, I deeply considered the meaning of this 
speech, while I eyed the apparition — then engaged in 
hugging and sucking a horizontal iron bar at the top of 
the locks. Inspiration suggested to me that Mr. Baker 
was the acting Coroner of that neighbourhood. 

" A common place for suicide," said I, looking down 
at the locks. 



26 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

" Sue ?" returned the ghost, with a stare. " Yes ! And 
Poll. Likeways Emly. And Nancy. And Jane;" he 
sucked the u'on between each name ; " and all the bileing. 
Ketches off their bonnets or shorls, takes a run, and 
headers down here, they doos. Always a headerin' down 
here, they is. Like one o'clock." 

" And at about that hour of the morning, I suppose ?" 

" Ah !" said the apparition. " They an't partickler. 
Two 'nil do for them. Three. All times o' night. O'ny 
mind you !" Here the apparition rested his profile on the 
bar, and gurgled in a sarcastic manner. " There must 
be somebody comin'. They don't go a headerin' down 
here, wen there an't no Bobby nor gen'ral Cove, fm^ to 
hear the splash." 

According to my interpretation of these words, I was 
myself a General Cove, or member of the miscellaneous 
public. In which modest character, I remarked : 

" They are often taken out, are they, and restored ?" 

^^I dunno about restored," said the apparition, who, 
for some occult reason, very much objected to that word ; 
^' they^re carried into the werkiss and put into a 'ot bath, 
and brought round. But I dunno about restored," said 
the apparition; ^^blow that!^^ — and vanished. 

As it had shown a desire to become offensive, I was 
not sorry to find myself alone, especially as the " werkiss" 
it had indicated with a twist of its matted head, was close 
at hand. So I left Mr. Baker's terrible trap (baited 
with a scum that was like the soapy rinsing of sooty 
chimneys), and made bold to ring at the workhouse gate, 
where I was wholly unexpected and quite unknown. 



FOUL WxVRDS. 27 

A very bright and nimble little matron, with a bunch 
of keys in her hand, responded to my request to see the 
House. I began to doubt whether the police magistrate 
was quite right in his facts, when I noticed her quick 
active little figure and her intelhgent eyes. 

The Traveller (the matron intimated) should see the 
worst first. He was welcome to see everything. Such 
as it was, there it all was. f 

This was the only preparation for our entering " the 
Foul wards." They were in an old building squeezed 
away in a corner of a paved yard, quite detached from 
the more modern and spacious main body of the work- 
house. They wei^ in a building most monstrously 
behind the time — a mere series of garrets or lofts, with 
every inconvenient and objectionable circiunstance in 
their construction, and only accessible by steep and 
nan^ow staircases, infamously ill adapted for the passage 
up-stairs of the sick or down stairs of the dead. 

A-bed in these miserable rooms, here on bedsteads, 
there (for a change, as I understood it) on the floor, 
were women in everj^ stage of distress and disease. None 
but those who have attentively observed such scenes, can 
conceive the extraordinaiy variety of expression still 
latent under the general monotony and uniformity of 
coloui', attitude, and condition. The form a little coiled 
up and turned away, as though it had turned its back on 
this world for ever ; the uninterested face at once lead- 
coloured and yellow, looking passively upward from the 
pillow; the haggard mouth a little dropped, the hand 
outside the coverlet, so dull and indifferent, so light, and 



28 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

yet so heavy ; these were on every pallet ; but, when I 
stopped beside a bed, and said ever so slight a word to the 
figure lying there, the ghost of the old character came 
into the face, and made the Foul ward as various as the 
fair world. No one appeared to care to live, but no one 
complained ; all who could speak, said that as much was 
done for them as could be done there, that the attendance 
was kind and patient, that their suffering was very heavy, 
but they had nothing to ask for. The wretched rooms 
were as clean and sweet as it is possible for such rooms 
to be ; they would become a pest-house in a single week, 
if they were ill-kept. 

I accompanied the brisk matron up another barbarous 
staircase, into a better kind of loft devoted to the idiotic 
and imbecile. There was at least Light in it, whereas 
the windows in the former wards had been like sides of 
schoolboys' birdcages. There was a strong grating over the 
fire here, and, holding a kind of state on either side of the 
hearth, separated by the breadth of this grating, were two 
old ladies in a condition of feeble dignity, which was surely 
the very last and lowest reduction of self-complacency, to 
be found in this wonderful humanity of ours. They 
were evidently jealous of each other, and passed their 
whole time (as some people do, whose fires are not 
grated) in mentally disparaging each other, and con- 
temptuously watching their neighbours. One of these 
parodies on provincial gentlewomen was extremely talka- 
tive, and expressed a strong desire to attend the service 
on Sundays, from which she represented herself to have 
derived the greatest interest and consolation when allowed 



« 



MRS. GA3IP IN ATTENDANCE. 29 

that privilege. She gossiped so well, and looked al- 
together so cheery and harmless, that I began to think 
this a case for the Eastern magistrate, until I found that 
on the last occasion of her attending chapel, she had 
secreted a small stick, and had caused some confusion in 
the responses by suddenly producing it and belabouring 
the congregation. 

So, these two old ladies, separated by the breadth of 
the grating — otherwise they would fly at one another's 
caps — sat all day long, suspecting one another, and con- 
templating a world of fits. For, everybody else in the 
room had fits, except the wardswoman ; an elderly, able- 
bodied pauperess, ^\dth a large upper lip, and an air of 
repressing and saving her strength, as she stood with her 
hands folded before her, and her eyes slowly rolling, 
biding her time for catching or holding somebody. This 
civil personage (in whom I regretted to identify a reduced 
member of my honourable friend Mrs. Gamp's family) 
said, " They has 'em continiwal, sir. They drops with- 
out no more notice than if they was coach-horses dropped 
from the moon, sir. And when one drops, another drops, 
and sometimes there'll be as many as four or five on 'em 
at once, dear me, a roUin' and a tearin', bless you ! — tliis 
young woman, now, has 'em dreadful bad." 

She turned up this young woman's face with her hand 
as she said it. This young woman was seated on the 
floor, pondering, in the foreground of the afilicted. There 
was nothing repellant, either in her face or head. Many, 
apparently v/orse, varieties of epilepsy and hysteria were 
about her, but she was said to be the worst there. "V^lien 



30 THE UXCOMMERCIAI. TRAVELLEK. 

I had spoken to her a Httle^ she still sat with her face 
turned up, pondering, and a gleam of the mid-day sun 
shone in upon her. 

— Whether this young woman, and the rest of these so 
sorely troubled, as they sit or lie pondering in their con- 
fused dull way, ever get mental glimpses among the 
motes in the sunlight, of healthy people and healthy 
things ? Whether this young woman, brooding like this 
in the summer season, ever thinks that somewhere there 
are trees and flowers, even mountains and the great sea 1 
Whether, not to go so far, this young woman ever has 
any dim revelation of that young woman — that young 
woman who is not here and never will come here ; 
who is courted, and caressed, and loved, and has a hus- 
band, and bears children, and lives in a home, and who 
never knows what it is to have this lashing and tearing 
coming upon her? And whether this young woman, 
God help her, gives herself up then and drops, like a 
coach-horse from the moon ? 

I hardly knew whether the voices of infant children, 
penetrating into so hopeless a place, made a sound that 
was pleasant or painful to me. It was something to be 
reminded that the weary world was not all aweary, and 
was ever reneT\T[ng itself ; but, this young woman was a 
child not long ago, and a child not long hence might be 
such as she. Howbeit, the active step and eye of the 
vigilant matron conducted me past the two provincial 
gentlewomen (whose dignity was ruffled by the children), 
and into the adjacent nursery. 



BABIES AND REFRACTORIES. 31 

There were many babies here, and more than one 
handsome young mother. There were ugly young 
mothers also, and sullen young mothers, and callous 
yomig mothers. But, the babies had not appropriated to 
themselves any bad expression yet, and might have been, 
for anything that appeared to the contrary in their soft 
faces, Princes Imperial, and Princesses Royal. I had the 
pleasure of giving a poetical commission to the baker's 
man to make a cake with all despatch and toss it into the 
oven for one red-headed yomig pauper and myself, and 
felt much the better for it. Without that refreshment, 
I doubt if I should have been in a condition for "the 
Eefractories," towards whom my quick little matron — for 
whose adaptation to her office I had by this time con- 
ceived a genuine respect — drew me next, and marshalled 
me the way that I was going. 

The Eefractories were picking oakum, in a small 
room giving on a yard. They sat in line on a form, with 
their backs to a window ; before them, a table, and their 
work. The oldest Refractory w^as, say twenty ; youngest 
Refractory, say sixteen. I have never yet ascertained, 
in the course of my uncommercial travels, why a Refrac- 
tory habit should affect the tonsils and uvula; but, I 
have always observed that Refractories of both sexes 
and every grade, between a Ragged School and the Old 
Bailey, have one voice, in which the tonsils and uvula 
gain a diseased ascendancy. 

" Five poimd indeed ! I hain't a going {\xr to pick five 
pound," said the Chief of the Refractories, keeping time 



32 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

to herself with her head and chin. " More than enough 
to pick what we picks now, in sitch a place as this, and 
on wot we gets here !" 

(This was in acknowledgment of a dehcate intimation 
that the amount of work was hkely to be increased. It 
certainly was not heavy then, for one Refractory had 
already done her day's task — ^it was barely two o'clock — 
and was sitting behind it, with a head exactly match- 
ing it.) 

"A pretty Ouse this is, matron, ain't it?" said Re* 
fractory Two, " where a pleeseman's called in, if a gal 
says a ^^ord!" 

" And wen you're sent to prison for nothink or less !" 
said the Chief, tugging at her oakum as if it were the 
matron's hair. " But any place is better than this ; that's 
one thing, and be thankful !" 

A laugh of Refractories led by Oakum Head with 
folded arms — who originated nothing, but who was in 
command of the skirmishers outside the conversation. 

" If any place is better than this," said my brisk guide, 
in the calmest manner, '' it is a pity you left a good place 
when you had one." 

" Ho, no, I didn't, matron," returned the Chief, with 
another pull at her oakum, and a very expressive look at 
the enemy's forehead. '' Don't say that, matron, cos it's 
Kes!" 

Oakum Head brought up the skirmishers again, skir- 
mished, and retired. 

" And I warn't a going," exclaimed Refractory Two, 
" though I was in one place for as long as four year — / 



MISS OAKUM HEAD, AND SKIRMISHERS. 33 

wam't a going fur to stop in a place that warn't fit for 
me — there ! And where the f am'ly wam't 'spectable cha- 
racters — there! And where I fort'nately or hunfort'- 
nately, found that the people wam't what they pretended 
to make theirselves out to be — there! And where it 
wasn't their faults, by chalks, if I warn't made bad and 
ruinated — Hah !" 

During this speech, Oakum Head had again made a 
diversion with the skirmishers, and had again with- 
draAvn. 

The Uncommercial Traveller ventured to remark that 
he supposed Chief Refractory and Number One, to be 
the two yoimg women who had been taken before the 
magistrate ? 

" Yes !" said the Chief, " we liar ! and the wonder is, 
that a pleeseman an't 'ad in now, and we took off agen. 
You can't open your hps here, without a pleeseman." 

Number Two laughed (very uvularly), and the skir- 
mishers followed suit. 

" I'm sure I'd be thankful," protested the Chief, look- 
ing sideways at the Uncommercial, " if I could be got 
into a place, or got abroad. I'm sick and tired of this 
precious Ouse, I am, with reason." 

So would be, and so was, Number Two. So would 
be, and so was. Oakum Head. So would be, and so 
were. Skirmishers. 

The Uncommercial took the liberty of hinting that he 
hardly thought it probable that any lady or gentleman in 
want of a Ukely young domestic of retiring manners, 
would be tempted into the engagement of either of the 

D 



34 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAYELLEE. 

two leading Refractories, on her own presentation of her- 
self as per sample. 

" It ain't no good being nothink else here/' said the 
Chief. 

The Unconunercial thought it might be worth trying. 

" Oh no it ain't/' .said the Chief. 

" Not a bit of good/' said Number Two. 

" And I'm sure I'd be very thankful to be got into a 
place, or got abroad/' said the Chief. 

" And so should I/' said Number Two. '' Truly thank- 
ful, I should." 

Oakum Head then rose, and announced as an entirely 
new idea, the mention of which profound novelty might 
be naturally expected to startle her unprepared hearers, 
that she would be very thankful to be got into a place, 
or got abroad. And, as if she had then said, " Chorus, 
ladies !" all the Skiimishers struck up to the same pur- 
pose. We left them, thereupon, and began a long walk 
among the women who were simply old and infirm ; but 
whenever, in the course of this same walk, I looked out 
of any high window that commanded the yard, I saw 
Oakum Head and all the other Refractories looking out 
at their low window for me, and never failing to catch 
me, the moment I showed my head. 

In ten minutes I had ceased to believe in such fables 
of a golden time as youth, the prime of life, or a hale old 
age. In ten minutes, all the Hghts of womankind seemed 
to have been blown out, and nothing in that way to be left 
this vault to brag of, but the flickering and expiring snuffs. 

And what was very curious, was, that these dim old 



GEOVES OF OLD WOMEN. 35 

women had one company notion wliich was tlie fashion 
of the place. Every old woman who became aware of a 
visitor and was not in bed, hobbled over a form into her 
accustomed seat, and became one of a line of dim old 
women confronting^ another line of dim old women across 
a narrow table. There was no obligation whatever upon 
them to range themselves in this way; it was their 
manner of " recei\i[ng." As a rule, they made no attempt 
to talk to one another, or to look at the visitor, or to look 
at anything, but sat silently working their mouths, like a 
sort of poor old Cows. In some of these wards, it was 
good to see a few green plants; in others, an isolated 
Refractory acting as nurse, who did well enough in that 
capacity, when separated from her compeers ; every one 
of these wards, day room, night room, or both combined, 
was scrupulously clean and fresh. I have seen as many 
such places as most travellers in my line, and I never 
saw one such, better kept. 

Among the bedridden there was great patience, great 
reliance on the books under the pillow, great faith in 
God. All cared for sympathy, but none much cared to 
be encouraged with hope of recovery ; on the whole, I 
should say, it was considered rather a distinction to have 
a complication of disorders, and to be in a worse way 
than the rest. From some of the windows, the river could 
be seen with all its life and movement; the day was 
bright, but I came upon no one who was looking out. 

Jn one large ward, sitting by the fire in arm-chairs of 
distinction, hke the President and Vice of the good com- 
pany, were two old women, upwards of ninety years of 

d2 



36 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

age. The younger of the two, just turned ninety, was 
deaf, but not very, and could easily be made to hear. In 
her early time she had nursed a child, who was now 
another old woman, more infirm than herself, inhabiting 
the very same chamber. She perfectly understood this 
when the matron told it, and, with sundry nods and mo- 
tions of her forefinger, pointed out the woman in ques- 
tion. The elder of this pair, ninety-three, seated before 
an illustrated newspaper (but not reading it), was a 
bright-eyed old soul, really not deaf, wonderfully pre- 
served, and amazingly conversational. She had not long 
lost her husband, and had been in that place little more 
than a year. At Boston, in the State of Massachusetts, 
this poor creature would have been individually addressed, 
would have been tended in her own room, and would 
have had her life gently assimilated to a comfortable life 
out of doors. Would that be much to do in England 
for a woman who has kept herself out of a workhouse 
more than ninety rough long years ? When Britain first, 
at Heaven's command, arose, with a great deal of alle- 
gorical confusion, from out the azure main, did her guar- 
dian angels positively forbid it in the Charter which has 
been so much be-snug? 

The object of my journey was accompHshed when the 
nimble matron had no more to show me. As I shook 
hands mth her at the gate, I told her that I thought 
Justice had not used her very well, and that the wise 
men of the East were not infallible. 

Now, I reasoned with myself, as I made my journey 
home again, concerning those Foul wards. They ought 



INEQUALITY OF POOR RATES. 37 

not to exist ; no person of common decency and humanity 
can see them and doubt it. But what is this Union to 
do ? The necessary alteration would cost several thou- 
sands of pounds ; it has already to support three work- 
houses ; its inhabitants work hard for their bare lives, 
and are already rated for the rehef of the Poor to the 
utmost extent of reasonable endurance. One poor parish 
in this very Union is rated to the amount of five and 
SIXPENCE in the poimd, at the very same time when the 
rich parish of Saint George's, Hanover-square, is rated 
at about Sevenpence in the pound, Paddington at about 
FouRPENCE, Saint James's, Westminster, at about Ten- 
pence ! It is only through the equalisation of Poor 
Rates that what is left undone in this wise, can be done. 
Much more is left undone, or is ill-done, than I have 
space to suggest in these notes of a single uncommercial 
journey ; but, the wise men of the East, before they can 
reasonably hold forth about it, must look to the North 
and South and West ; let them also, any morning before 
taking the seat of Solomon, look into the shops and 
dwellings all around the Temple, and first ask themselves 
" how much more can these poor people — many of whom 
keep themselves with difficulty enough out of the work- 
house — ^bear f 

I had yet other matter for reflection, as I journeyed 
home, inasmuch as, before I altogether departed from 
the neighbourhood of Mr. Baker's trap, I had knocked at 
the gate of the workhouse of St. George' s-in-the-East, 
and had foimd it to be an estabUshment highly credit- 
able to those parts, and thoroughly well administered by 



38 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLEK. 

a most intelligent master. I remarked in it, an instance 
of the collateral harm that obstinate vanity and folly can 
do. " This was the Hall where those old paupers, male 
and female, whom I had just seen, met for the Church 
service, was it ?" — " Yes." — " Did they sing the Psalms 
to any instrument ?" — " They would like to, very much ; 
they would have an extraordinary interest in doing so." 
— "And could none be got?" — "Well, a piano could 
even have been got for nothing, but these unfortunate 

dissensions " Ah ! better, far better, my Christian 

friend in the beavitiful garment, to have let the singing 
boys alone, and left the multitude to sing for themselves ! 
You should know better than I, but I think I have read 
that they did so, once upon a time, and that " when they 
had sung an hymn," Some one (not in a beautiful gar- 
ment) went up unto the Mount of Olives. 

It made my heart ache to think of this miserable 
trifling, in the streets of a city where every stone seemed 
to call to me, as I walked along, " Turn this way, man, 
and see what waits to be done!" So I decoyed myself 
into another train of thought to ease my heart. But, I 
don't know that I did it, for I was so full of paupers, 
that it was, after all, only a change to a single pauper, 
who took possession of my remembrance instead of a 
thousand. 

" I beg your pardon, sir," he had said, in a confiden- 
tial manner, on another occasion, taking me aside ; " but 
I have seen better days." 

" I am very sorry to hear it." 



A FALSE MASON. 39 

" Sir, I have a complaint to make against the master." 
^^I have no power here, I assure you. And if I 

had ^" 

"But allow me, sir, to mention it, as between yourself 
and a man who has seen better days, sir. The master 
and myself are both masons, sir, and I make him the 
sign continually ; but, because I am in this unfortunate 
position, sir, he won't give me the countersign" ! 



40 THE UKCOMMEECIAL TEAVELLEE. 



IV. 



TWO VIEWS OF A CHEAP THEATRE. 



As I shut the door of my lodging behind me, and 
came out into the streets at six on a drizzling Saturday 
evening in the last past month of January, all that neigh- 
bourhood of Covent-garden looked very desolate. It is 
so essentially a neighbourhood v^^hich has seen better 
days, that bad weather affects it sooner than another 
place which has not come down in the world. In its 
present reduced condition, it bears a thaw almost worse 
than any place I know. It gets so dreadfully low- 
spirited, when damp breaks forth. Those wonderful 
houses about Drury-lane Theatre, which in the palmy 
days of theatres were prosperous and long-settled places 
of business, and which now change hands every week, 
but never change their character of being divided and 
subdivided on the ground floor into mouldy dens of shops 
where an orange and half a dozen nuts, or a pomatum- 
pot, one cake of fancy soap, and a cigar-box, are offered 
for sale and never sold, were most ruefully contemplated 



A THEATRICAL NEIGHBOURHOOD. 41 

that evening, by the statue of Shakespeare, with the 
rain-drops coursing one another do^vn its innocent nose. 
Those inscrutable pigeon-hole offices, with nothing in 
them (not so much as an inkstand) but a model of a 
theatre before the curtain, where, in the Italian Opera 
season, tickets at reduced prices are kept on sale by 
nomadic gentlemen in smeary hats too tall for them, 
whom one occasionally seems to have seen on race- 
courses, not wholly unconnected with strips of cloth of 
various colours and a rolling ball — ^those Bedouin esta- 
blishments, deserted by the tribe, and tenantless except 
when sheltering in one comer an irregular row of 
ginger-beer-bottles which would have made one shudder 
on such a night, but for its being plain that they had 
nothing in them, shrunk from the shrill cries of the 
newsboys at their Exchange in the kennel of Catherine- 
street, like guilty things upon a fearful summons. At 
the pipe-shop in Great Kussell-street, the Death's-head 
pipes were like theatrical memento mori, admonishing 
beholders of the decline of the playhouse as an Institu- 
tion. I walked up Bow-street, disposed to be angry with 
the shops there, that were letting out theatrical secrets 
by exhibiting to work-a-day humanity the stuff of which 
diadems and robes of kings are made. I noticed that 
some shops which had once been in the dramatic line, 
and had struggled out of it, were not getting on pro- 
sperously — ^like some actors I have known, who took to 
business and failed to make it answer. In a word, those 
streets looked so dull, and, considered as theatrical 
streets, so broken and bankrupt, that the Found Dead 



42 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

on the black board at the poKce station might have 
announced the decease of the Drama, and the pools of 
water outside the fire-engine maker's at the corner of 
Long-acre might have been occasioned by his having 
brought out the whole of his stock to play upon its last 
smouldering ashes. 

And yet, on such a night in so degenerate a time, the 
object of my journey was theatrical. And yet within 
half an hour I was in an immense theatre, capable of 
holding nearly five thousand people. 

What Theatre? Her Majesty's ? Far better. Eoyal 
Italian Opera? Far better. Infinitely superior to the 
latter for hearing in; infinitely superior to both, for 
seeing in. To every part of this Theatre, spacious fire- 
proof ways of ingress and egress. For every part of it, 
convenient places of refreshment and retiring rooms. 
Everything to eat and drink carefully supervised as to 
quality, and sold at an appointed price; respectable 
female attendants ready for the commonest women in the 
audience ; a general air of consideration, decorum, and 
supervision, most commendable ; an unquestionably hu- 
manising influence in all the social arrangements of the 
place. 

Surely a dear Theatre, then ? Because there were in 
London (not very long ago) Theatres with enteince- 
prices up to half a guinea a head, whose arrangements 
were not half so civilised. Surely, therefore, a dear 
Theatre? Not very dear. A gallery at threepence, 
another gallery at f ourpence, a pit at sixpence, boxes and 



SENSIBLE BUILDING. 43 

pit-stalls at a shilling, and a few private boxes at half-a- 

crown. 

My uncommercial curiosity induced me to go into 
every nook of this great place, and among every class of 
the audience assembled in it — amounting that evening, 
as I calculated, to about two thousand and odd hundreds. 
Magnificently lighted by a firmament of sparkling chan- 
deliers, the building was ventilated to perfection. My 
sense of smell, without being particularly delicate, has 
been so offended in some of the commoner places of 
public resort, that I have often been obliged to leave 
them when I have made an uncommercial journey ex- 
pressly to look on. The air of this Theatre was fresh, 
cool, and wholesome. To help towards this end, very 
sensible precautions had been used, ingeniously combin- 
ing the experience of hospitals and railway stations. As- 
phalte pavements substituted for wooden floors, honest 
bare walls of glazed brick and tile — even at the back of 
the boxes — for plaster and paper, no benches stuffed, and 
no carpeting or baize used : a cool material with a light 
glazed surface, being the covering of the seats. 

These various contrivances are as well considered in 
the place in question as if it were a Fever Hospital ; the 
result is, that it is sweet and healthful. It has been con- 
structed from the ground to the roof, with a careful refer- 
ence to sight and sound in every comer ; the result is, that 
its form is beautiful, and that the appearance of the audi- 
ence, as seen from the proscenium — with every face in it 
commanding the stage, and the whole so admirably raked 



44 THE UNCOMIMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

and turned to that centre, that a hand can scarcely move 
in the great assemblage without the movement being seen 
from thence — is highly remarkable in its union of vast- 
ness with compactness. The stage itself, and all its ap- 
purtenances of machinery, cellarage, height, and breadth, 
are on a scale more like the Scala at Milan, or the San 
Carlo at Naples, or the Grand Opera at Paris, than any 
notion a stranger would be likely to form of the Britannia 
Theatre at Hoxton, a mile north of St. Luke's Hospital 
in the Old-street-road, London. The Forty Thieves 
might be played here, and every thief ride his real horse, 
and the disguised captain bring in his oil jars on a train 
of real camels, and nobody be put out of the way. This 
really extraordinary place is the achievement of one 
man's enterprise, and was erected on the ruins of an in- 
convenient old building, in less than five months, at a 
round cost of five-and-twenty thousand pounds. To dis- 
miss this part of my subject, and still to render to the 
proprietor the credit that is strictly his due, I must add 
that his sense of the responsibility upon him to make the 
best of his audience, and to do his best for them, is a 
highly agreeable sign of these times. 

As the spectators at this theatre, for a reason I will 
presently show, were the object of my journey, I entered 
on the play of the night as one of the two thousand and 
odd hundreds, by looking about me at my neighbours. 
We were a motley assemblage of people, and we had a 
good many boys and young men among us ; we had also 
many girls and young women. To represent, however, 
that we did not include a very great number, and a very 



A SATURDAY AUDIENCE. 45 

fair proportion of family groups, would be to make a 
gross misstatement. Such groups were to be seen in all 
parts of the house ; in the boxes and stalls particularly, 
they were composed of persons of very decent appearance, 
who had many children with them. Among our dresses 
there were most kinds of shabby and greasy wear, and 
much fustian and corduroy that was neither sound nor 
fragrant. The caps of our young men were mostly of a 
limp character, and we who wore them, slouched, high- 
shouldered, into our places with our hands in our pockets^ 
and occasionally twisted our cravats about our necks like 
eels, and occasionally tied them down our breasts like 
links of sausages, and occasionally had a screw in our 
hair over each cheek-bone with a slight Thief-flavour in 
it. Besides prowlers and idlers, we were mechanics, 
dock-labourers, costermongers, petty tradesmen, small 
clerks, milliners, stay-makers, shoe-binders, slop workers, 
poor workers in a hundred highways and byeways. Many 
of us — on the whole, the majority — were not at all clean, 
and not at all choice in our lives or conversation. But 
we had all come together in a place where our conve- 
nience was well consulted, and where we were well looked 
after, to enjoy an evening's entertainment in common. 
We were not going to lose any part of what we had paid 
for, through anybody's caprice, and as a community we 
had a character to lose. So, we were closely attentive, 
and kept excellent order ; and let the man or boy who did 
otherwise instantly get out from this place, or we would 
put him out with the greatest expedition. 

We began at half-past six with a pantomime — with a 



46 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

pantomime so long^ that before it was over I felt as if I 
had been travelling for six weeks — going to India^ say, 
by the Overland Mail. The Spirit of Liberty was the 
principal personage in the Introduction, and the Four 
Quarters of the World came out of the globe, glittering, 
and discoursed with the Spirit, who sang charmingly. 
We were delighted to understand that there was no 
Liberty anywhere but among ourselves, and we highly 
applauded the agreeable fact. In an allegorical way, 
which did as well as any other way, we and the Spirit of 
Liberty got into a kingdom of Needles and Pins, and 
found them at war w^ith a potentate who called in to his 
aid their old arch-enemy Eust, and who would have got 
the better of them if the Spirit of Liberty had not in 
the nick of time transformed the leaders into Clown, 
Pantaloon, Harlequin, Columbine, Harlequina, and a 
whole family of Sprites, consisting of a remarkably 
stout father and three spineless sons. We all knew 
what was coming when the Spirit of Liberty addressed 
the king mth the big face, and His Majesty backed to 
the side-scenes and began untying himself behind, with 
his big face all on one side. Our excitement at that 
crisis was great, and our delight unbounded. After this . 
era in our existence, we went through all the incidents • 
of a pantomime; it was not by any means a savage 
pantomime in the way of burning or boiling people, or 
throwing them out of window, or cutting them up ; was 
often very droll; was always liberally got up, and 
cleverly presented. I noticed that the people who kept 
the shops, and who represented the passengers in the 



PANTOMIME AND MELODRAIMA. 47 

tlioroughfares^ and so forth, had no conventionahty in 
them, but were unusually like the real thing — from 
which I infer that you may take that audience in (if 
you wish to) concerning Knights and Ladies, Fairies, 
Angels, or such like, but they are not to be done as to 
anything in the streets. I noticed, also, that when two 
young men, dressed in exact imitation of the eel-and- 
sausage- cravated portion of the audience, were chased 
by policemen, and, finding themselves in danger of 
being caught, dropped so suddenly as to oblige the 
policemen to tumble over them, there was great rejoicing 
among the caps — as though it were a delicate reference 
to something they had heard of before. 

The Pantomime was succeeded by a Melo-Drama. 
Throughout the evening, I was pleased to observe 
Virtue quite as triumphant as she usually is out of 
doors, and indeed I thought rather more so. We all 
agreed (for the time) that honesty was the best policy, 
and we were as hard as iron upon Vice, and we wouldn't 
hear of Villany getting on in the world — no, not on any 
consideration whatever. 

Between the pieces, we almost all of us went out and 
refreshed. Many of us went the length of drinking 
beer at the bar of the neighbouring public-house, some 
of us drank spirits, crowds of us had sandwiches and 
ginger-beer at the refreshment-bars established for us in 
the Theatre. The sandwich — as substantial as was con- 
sistent with portability, and as cheap as possible — ^we 
hailed as one of our greatest institutions. It forced its 
way among us at all stages of the entertainment, and we 



48 THE UNCOMMEKCIAL TEAVELLER. 

were always delighted to see it ; its adaptability to the 
varying moods of our nature was surprising ; we could 
never weep so comfortably as when our tears fell on our 
sandwich ; we could never laugh so heartily as when we 
choked with sandwich ; Virtue never looked so beautiful 
or Vice so deformed as when we paused, sandwich in 
hand, to consider what would come of that resolution of 
Wickedness in boots, to sever Innocence in flowered 
chintz from Honest Industry in striped stockings. When 
the curtain fell for the night, we still fell back upon 
sandwich, to help us through the rain and mire, and 
home to bed. 

This, as I have mentioned, was Saturday night. Being 
Saturday night, I had accomplished but the half of my 
uncommercial journey ; for, its object was to compare the 
play on Saturday evening, with the preaching in the 
same Theatre on Sunday evening. 

Therefore, at the same hour of half -past six on the 
similarly damp and muddy Sunday evening, I retm'ned 
to this Theatre. I drove up to the entrance (fearful of 
being late, or I should have come on foot), and found 
myself in a large crowd of people who, I am happy to 
state, were put into excellent spirits by my arrival. 
Having nothing to look at but the mud and the closed 
doors, they looked at me, and highly enjoyed the comic 
spectacle. My modesty inducing me to draw off, some 
hundreds of yards, into a dark corner, they at once 
forgot me, and applied themselves to their former occu- 
pation of looking at the mud and looking in at the closed 
doors: which, being of grated iron-work, allowed the 



A SUXDAY AUDIENCE. 49 

lio-hted passage within to be seen. They were chiefly 
jieople of respectable appearance, odd and impulsive as 
most crowds are, and making a joke of being there as 
most crowds do. 

In the dark corner I might have sat a long while, but 
that a very obUging passer-by informed me that the 
Theatre was already full, and that the people whom I 
saw in the street were all shut out for want of room. 
After that, I lost no time in worming myself into the 
building, and creeping to a place in a Proscenium box 
that had been kept for me. 

There must have been full four thousand people pre- 
sent. Carefully estimating the pit alone, I could bring 
it out as holding httle less than fourteen hmidred. Every 
part of the house was well filled, and I had not found it 
easy to make my way along the back of the boxes to 
where I sat. The chandeliers in the ceiling were lighted ; 
there was no Hght on the stage ; the orchestra was empty. 
The green curtain was down, and, packed pretty closely 
on chairs on the small space of stage before it, were some 
thirty gentlemen, and two or three ladies. In the centre 
of these, in a desk or pulpit covered with red baize, was 
the presiding minister. The kind of rostrum he occu- 
pied, will be very well understood, if I liken it to a 
boarded-up-fireplace turned towards the audience, with a 
gentleman in a black surtout standing in the stove and 
leaning forward over the mantelpiece. 

A portion of Scripture was being read when I went in. 
It was followed by a discourse, to which the congrega- 
tion listened with most exemplary attention and uninter- 

E 



50 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

rupted silence and decorum. My own attention compre- 
hended botti the auditory and the speaker, and shall turn 
to both in this recalling of the scene, exactly as it did at 
the time. 

" A very difficult thing/' I thought, when the discourse 
began, " to speak appropriately to so large an audience, 
and to speak with tact. Without it, better not to speak 
at all. Infinitely better, to read the New Testament 
well, and to let that speak. In this congregation there is 
indubitably one pulse ; but I doubt if any power short of 
genius can touch it as one, and make it answer as one." 

I could not possibly say to myself as the discourse pro- 
ceeded, that the minister was a good speaker. I could 
not possibly say to myself that he expressed an under- 
standing of the general mind and character of his au- 
dience. There was a supposititious working-man intro- 
duced into the homily, to make supposititious objections to 
our Christian religion and be reasoned down, who was 
not only a very disagreeable person, but remarkably 
unlike life — ^very much more unlike it than anything I 
had seen in the pantomime. The native independence of 
character this artisan was supposed to possess, was repre- 
sented by a suggestion of a dialect that I certainly never 
heard in my uncommercial travels, and with a coarse 
swing of voice and manner anything but agreeable to 
his feelings I should conceive, considered in the light of 
a portrait, and as far away from the fact as a Chinese 
Tartar. There was a model pauper introduced in like 
manner, who appeared to me to be the most intolerably 
arrogant pauper ever relieved, and to show himself in ab- 



" SPIFwITUAL PRIDE. 51 

solute want and dire necessity of a course of Stone Yard. 
For, how did this pauper testify to his having received 
the gospel of humility ? A gentleman met him in the 
workhouse, and said (which I myself really thought good- 
natured of him), " Ah, John ? I am sorry to see you 
here. I am sorry to see you so poor." "Poor, sir!" re- 
plied that man, drawing himself up, " I am the son of a 
Prince ! My father is the King of Kings. My father 
is the Lord of Lords. My father is the ruler of all the 
Princes of the Earth !" &c. And this was what all the 
preacher's fellow-sinners might come to, if they would 
embrace this blessed book — which I must say it did some 
violence to my own feelings of reverence, to see held out 
at arm's length at frequent intervals and soundingly 
slapped, Kke a slow lot at a sale. Now, could I help 
asking myself the question, whether the mechanic before 
me, who must detect the preacher as being wrong about 
the visible manner of himself and the like of himself, 
and about such a noisy lip-server as that pauper, might 
not, most unhappily for the usefulness of the occasion, 
doubt that preacher's being right about things not visible 
to human senses ? 

Again. Is it necessary or advisable to address such an 
audience continually, as " fellow-sinners" ? Is it not 
enough to be fellow-creatures, bom yesterday, suffering 
and striving to-day, dying to-morrow ? By our common 
humanity, my brothers and sisters, by our common capa- 
cities for pain and pleasure, by our common laughter and 
our common tears, by om^ common aspiration to reach 
something better than ourselves, by our common tendency 

e2 



52 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

to believe in something good, and to invest whatever we 
love or whatever we lose with some qualities that are su- 
perior to our own failings and weaknesses as we know 
them in our own poor hearts — by these. Hear me ! — 
Surely, it is enough to be fellow-creatm'es. Srurely, it 
includes the other designation and some touching mean- 
ings over and above. 

Again. There w^as a personage introduced into the 
discourse (not an absolute novelty, to the best of my re- 
membrance of my reading), who had been personally 
known to the preacher, and had been quite a Crichton 
in all the ways of philosophy, but had been an infidel. 
Many a time had the preacher talked with him on that 
subject, and many a time had he failed to convince that 
intellio:ent man. But he fell ill, and died, and before he 
died he recorded his conversion — in words which the 
preacher had taken down, my fellow-sinners, and would 
read to you from this piece of paper. I must confess 
that to me, as one of an uninstructed audience, they did 
not appear particularly edifying. I thought their tone 
extremely selfish, and I thought they had a spiritual 
vanity in them wliich was of the before-mentioned re- 
fractory pauper's family. 

All slangs and twangs are objectionable everywhere, 
but the slang and twang of the conventicle — as bad in 
its way as that of the House of Commons, and nothing 
worse can be said of it — should be studiously avoided 
under such circumstances as I describe. The avoidance 
was not complete on this occasion. Nor was it quite 



SPECIxVLITY WANTING. 53 

agreeable to see the preacher addressing his pet " points" 
to his backers on the stage, as if appealing to those dis- 
ciples to show him up, and testify to the multitude that 
each of those points was a clincher. 

But, in respect of the large Christianity of his general 
tone ; of his renunciation of all priestly authority ; of 
his earnest and reiterated assurance to the people that 
the commonest among them could work out their own 
salvation if they would, by simply, lovingly, and dutifully 
following Our Saviour, and that they needed the media- 
tion of no erring man ; in these particulars, this gentle- 
man deserved all praise. Nothing could be better than 
the spirit, or the plain emphatic words of his discourse 
in these respects. And it was a most significant and en- 
couraging circumstance that whenever he struck that 
chord, or whenever he described anything which Christ 
himself had done, the array of faces before him was very 
much more earnest, and very much more expressive of 
emotion, than at any other time. 

And now, I am brought to the fact, that the lowest 
part of the audience of the previous night, was not there. 
There is no doubt about it. There was no such thing in 
that building, that Sunday evening. I have been told 
since, that the lowest part of the audience of the Vic- 
toria Theatre has been attracted to its Sunday services. I 
have been very glad to hear it, but on this occasion of 
which I write, the lowest part of the usual audience of 
the Britannia Theatre, decidedly and unquestionably 
stayed away. When I first took my seat and looked at 



54 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRATELLER. 

the house, my surprise at the change in its occupants was 
as great as my disappointment. To the most respectable 
class of the previous evening, was added a great number 
of respectable strangors attracted by curiosity, and drafts 
from the regular congregations of various chapels. It 
was impossible to fail in identifying the character of these 
last, and they were very numerous. I came out in a 
strong, slow tide of them setting from the boxes. Indeed, 
while the discourse was in progress, the respectable cha- 
racter of the auditory was so manifest in their appear- 
ance, that when the minister addressed a supposititious 
" outcast," one really felt a little impatient of it, as a 
figm'e of speech not justified by anything the eye could 
discover. 

The time appointed for the conclusion of the proceed- 
ings was eight o'clock. The address having lasted mitil 
full that time, and it being the custom to conclude with 
a hymn, the preacher intimated in a few sensible words 
that the clock had struck the hour, and that those who 
desired to go before the hymn was sung, could go now, 
without giving offence. No one stirred. The hymn 
was then simg, in good time and tune and unison, and its 
effect was very striking. A comprehensive benevolent 
prayer dismissed the throng, and in seven or eight mi- 
nutes there was nothing left in the Theatre but a light 
cloud of dust. 

That these Sunday meetings in Theatres are good 
things, I do not doubt. Nor do I doubt that they will 
work lower and lower down in the social scale, if those 



BETTER WORDS THAN 31EN S. 55 

who preside over them will be very careful on two heads : 
firstly, not to disparage the places in which they speak, or 
the intelligence of their hearers ; secondly, not to set 
themselves in antagonism to the natural inborn desire of 
the mass of mankind to recreate themselves and to be 
amused. 

There is a third head, taking precedence of all others, 
to which my remarks on the discourse I heard, have 
tended. In the New Testament there is the most beau- 
tiful and affecting history conceivable by man, and there 
are the terse models for all prayer and for all preaching. 
As to the models, imitate them, Sunday preachers — else 
why are they there, consider ? As to the history, tell it. 
Some people cannot read, some people will not read, 
many people (this especially holds among the young and 
ignorant) find it hard to pursue the verse-form in which 
the book is presented to them, and imagine that those 
breaks imply gaps, and want of continuity. Help them 
over that first stumbling-block, by setting forth the his- 
tory in narrative, with no fear of exhausting it. You 
will never preach so well, you will never move them so 
profoundly, you mil never send them away with half so 
much to think of. Which is the better interest : Christ's 
choice of twelve poor men to help in those merciful 
wonders among the poor and rejected ; or the pious bully- 
ing of a whole Union-full of paupers ? What is your 
changed philosopher to wretched me, peeping in at the 
door out of the mud of the streets and of my life, when 
you have the widow's son to tell me about, the ruler's 



56 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLEK. 

daughter, the other figure at the door when the brother 
of the two sisters was dead, and one of the two ran to the 
mourner, crying, " The Master is come and calleth for 
thee" ? — Let the preacher who will thoroughly forget 
himself and remember no individuality but one, and no 
eloquence but one, stand up before four thousand men 
and women at the Britannia Theatre any Sunday night, 
recounting that narrative to them as fellow-creatures, and 
he shall see a sight ! 



i 



THE SWEET LITTLE CHEBUB, 57 



V. 



POOR -MERCANTILE JACK, 



Is the sweet little cherub who sits smiling aloft and 
keeps watch on the life of poor Jack, commissioned to 
take charge of Mercantile Jack, as well as Jack of the 
national navy? If not, who is? What is the cherub 
about, and what are we all about, when poor Mercantile 
Jack is having his brains slowly knocked out by penny- 
weights, aboard the brig Beelzebub, or the barque Bowie- 
knife — when he looks his last at that infernal craft, with 
the first officer's iron boot-heel in his remaining eye, or 
with his dying body towed overboard in the ship's wake, 
while the cruel wounds in it do " the multitudinous seas 
incarnadine" ? 

Is it unreasonable to entertain a belief that if, aboard 
the brig Beelzebub or the barque Bowie-knife, the first 
officer did half the damage to cotton that he does to men, 
there would presently arise from both sides of the Atlantic 
so vociferous an invocation of the sweet little cherub who 
sits calculating aloft, keeping watch on the markets that 



58 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

pay, that such vigilant cherub would, with a winged 
sword, have that gallant officer's organ of destructiveness 
out of his head in the space of a flash of lightning? 

If it be unreasonable, then am I the most unreasonable 
of men, for I believe it with all my soul. 

This was my thought as I walked the dock-quays at 
Liverpool, keeping watch on poor Mercantile Jack. Alas 
for me ! I have long outgrown the state of sweet little 
cherub ; but there I was, and there Mercantile Jack was, 
and very busy he was, and very cold he was : the snow 
yet lying in the frozen furrows of the land, and the 
north-east mnds snipping off the tops of the little waves 
in the Mersey, and rolling them into hailstones to pelt 
him with. Mercantile Jack was hard at it, in the hard 
weather : as he mostly is in all weathers, poor Jack. He 
was girded to ships' masts and funnels of steamers, like a 
forester to a great oak, scraping and painting ; he was 
lying out on yards, furlmg sails that tried to beat him 
off ; he was dimly discernible up in a world of giant cob- 
webs, reefing and splicing ; he was faintly audible down 
in holds, stowing and unshipping cargo ; he was winding 
round and round at capstans melodious, monotonous, and 
drunk ; he was of a diabohcal aspect, with coaling for 
the Antipodes ; he was washing decks barefoot, with the 
breast of his red shirt open to the blast, though it was 
sharper than the knife in his leathern girdle; he was 
looking over bulwarks, all eyes and hair ; he was standing 
by at the shoot of the Ounard steamer, off to-morrow, as 
the stocks in trade of several butchers, poulterers, and 
fishmongers, poured down into the ice-house; he was 



jack's distractioxs. 59 

comino- aboard of other vessels, with his kit in a tarpaulin 
bag, attended by plunderers to the very last moment of 
his shore-going existence. As though his senses when 
released from the uproar of the elements, were under 
obhgation to be confused by other turmoil, there was a 
ratthng of wheels, a clattering of hoofs, a clashing of 
iron, a jolting of cotton and hides and casks and timber, 
an incessant deafening disturbance, on the quays, that 
was the very madness of sound. And as, in the midst 
of it, he stood swaying about, with his hair blown all 
manner of wild ways, rather crazedly taking leave of his 
plunderers, all the rigging in the docks was shrill in the 
wind, and every little steamer coming and going across 
the Mersey was sharp in its blowing off, and every buoy 
in the river bobbed spitefully up and down, as if there 
were a general taunting chorus of " Come along. Mer- 
cantile Jack ! Ill-lodged, ill-fed, ill-used, hocussed, en- 
trapped, anticipated, cleaned out. Come along. Poor 
Mercantile Jack, and be tempest-tossed till you are 
drowned !" 

The imcommercial transaction which had brought me 
and Jack together, was this ; — I had entered the Liver- 
pool police-force, that I might have a look at the various 
unlawful traps which are every night set for Jack. As 
my term of service in that distinguished corps was short, 
and as my personal bias in the capacity of one of its mem- 
bers has ceased, no suspicion will attach to my evidence 
that it is an admirable force. Besides that it is composed, 
without favour, of the best men that can be picked, it is 
directed by an unusual intelligence. Its organisation 



60 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

against Fires, I take to be much better than the me- 
tropohtan system, and in all respects it tempers its 
remarkable vigilance with a still more remarkable dis- 
cretion. 

Jack had knocked off work in the docks some hours, 
and I had taken, for purposes of identification, a photo- 
graph-hkeness of a thief, in the portrait-room at our 
head police office (on the whole, he seemed rather com- 
plimented by the proceeding), and I had been on poHce- 
parade, and the small hand of the clock was moving on 
to ten, when I took up my lantern to follow Mr. Super- 
intendent to the traps that were set for Jack. In Mr. 
Superintendent I saw, as anybody might, a tall well- 
looking well set-up man of a soldierly bearing, with a 
cavalry air, a good chest, and a resolute but not by any 
means ungentle face. He carried in his hand a plain 
black walking-stick of hard wood; and whenever and 
wherever, at any after-time of the night, he struck it on 
the pavement with a ringing sound, it instantly produced 
a whistle out of the darkness, and a pohceman. To this 
remarkable stick, I refer an air of mystery and magic 
which pervaded the whole of my perquisition among the 
traps that were set for Jack. 

We began by diving into the obscurest streets and 
lanes of the port. Suddenly pausing in a flow of 
cheerful discourse, before a dead wall, apparently some 
ten miles long, Mr. Superintendent struck upon the 
ground, and the wall opened and shot out, with military 
salute of hand to temple, two policemen — ^not in the 



SHARPEYE AND CO. 61 

least sui'prised themselves, not in the least surprising ]Mr. 
Superintendent. 

" All right, Sharpeye?" 

" All right, sir." 

" All right, Trampf oot ? " 

" All right, sir." 

" Is Quickear there ? " 

" Here am I, sir." 

" Come with us." 

" Yes, sir." 

So, Sharpeye went before, and Mr. Superintendent 
and I went next, and Trampf oot and Quickear marched 
as rear-guard. Sharpeye, I soon had occasion to re- 
mark, had a skilful and quite professional way of open- 
ing doors — touched latches delicately, as if they were 
keys of musical instruments — opened every door he 
touched, as if he were perfectly confident that there was 
stolen property behind it — instantly insinuated himself, 
to prevent its being shut. 

Sharpeye opened several doors of traps that were set 
for Jack, but Jack did not happen to be in any of them. 
They were all such miserable places that really. Jack, if 
I were you, I would give them a wider berth. In every 
trap, somebody was sitting over a fire, waiting for Jack. 
Now, it was a crouching old woman, like the picture of 
the Norwood Gipsy in the old sixpenny dream-books ; 
now, it was a crimp of the male sex in a checked shirt 
and without a coat, reading a newspaper ; now, it was a 
man crimp and a woman crimp, who always introduced 



62 THE UNCOMMEECIAL TRAVELLER. 

themselves as imited in holy matrimony; now, it was 
Jack's delight, his (tin) lovely Nan ; but they were all 
waiting for Jack, and were all frightfully disappointed 
to see US. 

" Who have you got up-stairs here ? " says Sharpeye, 
generally. (In the Move-on tone.) 

" Nobody, surr ; sure not a blessed sowl ! " (Irish fe- 
minine reply.) 

^^What do you mean by nobody? Didn't I hear a 
woman's step go up-stairs when my hand was on the 
latch?" * 

" Ah ! sure thin you're right, surr, I forgot her ! 'Tis 
on'y Betsy White, surr. Ah! you know Betsy, surr. 
Come down, Betsy darhn', and say the gintlemin." 

Generally, Betsy looks over the banisters (the steep 
stancase is in the room) with a forcible expression in her 
protesting face, of an intention to compensate herseK for 
the present trial by grinding Jack finer than usual when 
he does come. Generally, Shai^eye turns to Mr. Super- 
intendent, and says, as if the subjects of his remarks were 
wax-work : 

'' One of the worst, sh', this house is. This woman 
has been indicted three times. This man's a regular bad 
one likewise. His real name is Pegg. Gives himself 
out as Waterhouse." 

" Never had sitch a name as Pegg near me back, thin, 
since I was in this house, bee the good Lard ! " says the 
woman. 

Generally, the man says nothing at all, but becomes 
exceedingly round-shouldered, and pretends to read his 



jack's houses of call. 63 

paper with rapt attention. Generally, Sliarpeye directs 
oui' observation with a look, to the prints and pictures 
that are invariably numerous on the walls. Always, 
Tranipfoot and Quickear are taking notice on the door- 
step. In default of Sharpeye being acquainted with the 
exact individuahty of any gentleman encountered, one of 
these two is sure to proclaim from the outer air, like a 
gruff spectre, that Jackson is not Jackson, but knows 
himself to be Fogle ; or that Canlon is Walker's brother, 
against whom there was not sufficient evidence ; or that 
the man who says he never was at sea since he was a boy, 
came ashore from a voyage last Thursday, or sails to- 
morrow morning. ^^ And that is a bad class of man, you 
see," says Mr. Superintendent, when he got out into the 
dark again, " and very difficult to deal with, who, when 
he has made this place too hot to hold him, enters him- 
seK for a voyage as steward or cook, and is out of know- 
ledge for months, and then turns up again worse than 
ever." 

When we had gone into many such houses, and had 
come out (always leaving everybody relapsing into wait- 
ing for Jack), we started off to a singing-house where 
Jack was expected to muster strong. 

The vocalisation was taking place in a long low room 
up-stairs ; at one end, an orchestra of two performers, 
and a small platform ; across the room, a series of open 
pews for Jack, with an aisle down the middle ; at the 
other end, a larger pew than the rest, entitled Snug, and 
reserved for mates and similar good company. About 
the room, some amazing coffee-coloured pictures varnished 



64 THE UlS^COMMERCIAL. TRAVELLEK. 

an inch deep, and some stuffed creatures in cases ; dotted 
among the audience, in Snug and out of Snug, the " Pro- 
fessionals ;" among them, the celebrated comic favourite 
Mr. Banjo Bones, looking very hideous with his blackened 
face and Kmp sugar-loaf hat ; beside him, sipping rum- 
and-water, Mrs. Banjo Bones, in her natural colours — a 
httle heightened. 

It was a Friday night, and Friday night was consi- 
dered not a good night for Jack. At any rate. Jack did 
not show in very great force even here, though the 
house was one to which he much resorts, and where a 
good deal of money is taken. There was British Jack, 
a httle maudlin and sleepy, loUing over his empty glass, 
as if he were trying to read his fortune at the bottom ; 
there was Loafing Jack of the Stars and Stripes, rather 
an unpromising customer, with his long nose, lank cheek, 
high cheek-bones, and nothing soft about him but his 
cabbage-leaf hat ; there was Spanish Jack with curls of 
black hair, rings in his ears, and a knife not far from his 
hand, if you got into trouble ^vith him; there were 
Maltese Jack, and Jack of Sweden, and Jack the Finn, 
looming through the smoke of their pipes, and turning 
faces that looked as if they were carved out of dark 
wood, towards the young lady dancing the hornpipe : who 
foimd the platform so exceedingly small for it, that I 
had a nervous expectation of seeing her, in the backward 
steps, disappear through the window. Still, if all hands 
had been got together, they would not have more than 
half filled the room. Observe, however, said Mr. Li- 
censed Victualler, the host, that it was Friday night, 



MR. LICENSED VICTUALLER'S TALENT. 65 

and, besides, it was getting on for twelve, and Jack 
had gone aboard. A sharp and watchful man, Mr. 
Licensed Victualler, the host, with tight lips and a com- 
plete edition of Cocker's arithmetic in each eye. At- 
tended to his business himself, he said. Always on the 
spot. When he heard of talent, trusted nobody's account 
of it, but went off by rail to see it. If true talent, 
engaged it. Pounds a week for talent — four pound — 
five pound. Banjo Bones was undoubted talent. Hear 
this instrument that was going to play — it was real 
talent! In truth it was very good; a kind of piano- 
accordion, played by a young girl of a delicate pretti- 
ness of face, figure, and dress, that made the audience 
look coarser. She sang to the instrument, too ; first, a 
song about village bells, and how they chimed ; then a 
song about how I went to sea ; winding up with an imi- 
tation of the bagpipes, which Mercantile Jack seemed to 
understand much the best. A good gH, said Mr. Li- 
censed Victualler. Kept herself select. Sat in Snug, 
not listening to the blandishments of Mates. Lived 
with mother. Father dead. Once a merchant well to 
do, but over speculated himself. On delicate inquiry as 
to salary paid for item of talent under consideration, Mr. 
Victualler's pounds dropped suddenly to shillings — still 
it was a very comfortable thing for a young person like 
that, you know ; she only went on six times a night, and 
was only required to be there from six at night to twelve. 
What was more conclusive was, Mr. Victualler's assur- 
ance that he " never allowed any language, and never 
suffered any disturbance." Sharpeye confirmed the 

F 



66 THE UXCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

statement, and the order that prevailed was the best 
proof of it that could have been cited. So, I came to 
the conclusion that poor Mercantile Jack might do (as I 
am afraid he does) much worse than trust himself to Mr. 
Victualler, and pass his evenings here. 

But we had not yet looked, Mr. Superintendent — said 
Trampfoot, receiving us in the street again with military 
salute — for Dark Jack. True, Trampfoot. Ring the 
wonderful stick, rub the wonderful lantern, and cause 
the spirits of the stick and lantern to convey us to the 
Darkies. 

There was no disappointment in the matter of Dark 
Jack ; lie was producible. The Genii set us down in the 
little first floor of a little public-house, and there, in a 
stiflingly close atmosphere, were Dark Jack and Dark 
Jack's Delight, his white unlovely Nan, sitting against 
the wall all round the room. More than that : Dark 
Jack's Delight was the least unlovely Nan, both morally 
and physically, that I saw that night. 

As a fiddle and tambourine band were sitting among 
the company, Quickear suggested why not strike up ? 
" Ah la' ads ! " said a negro sitting by the door, " gib the 
jebblem a damse. Tak' yah pardlers, jebblem, for 'um 
QUAD-rill." 

This was the landlord, in a Greek cap, and a dress 
half Greek and half English. As master of the cere- 
monies, he called all the figdres, and occasionally ad- 
dressed himself parenthetically — after tliis manner. AVhen 
he was very loud, I use capitals. 

" Now den ! Hoy ! One. Eight and left. (Put a 



BLACK QUADraLLES. 67 

steam on, gib 'um powder.) LA-dies' chail. BAX-loon 
say. Lemonade ! Two. AD-warnse and go back (gib 
'ell a breakdo^NHii, shake it out o' yerselbs, keep a movil). 
SwiNG-comers, BAX-loon say, and Lemonade ! (Hoy !) 
Three. Gent come for'ard with a lady and go back, 
hoppersite come for'ard and do what yer can. (Aeiohoy !) 
BAL-loon say, and leetle lemonade (Dat hair nigger by 
'um fireplace 'hind a' time, shake it out o' yerselbs, gib 
'ell a breakdown). Now den ! Hoy ! Four ! Lemonade. 
Bal-Ioou say, and swing. Four ladies meets in 'um 
middle, FOUR gents goes round 'um ladies, four gents 
passes out under 'um ladies' arms, swing — and Lemonade 
till 'a moosic can't play no more ! (Hoy, Hoy !)" 

The male dancers were all blacks, and one was an 
unusually powerful man of six feet three or four. The 
sound of their flat feet on the floor was as unlike the 
somid of white feet as their faces w^ere imhke white 
faces. They toed and heeled, shuflled, double-shuffled, 
double-double-shuffled, covered the buckle, and beat the 
time out, rarely, dancing with a great show of teeth, 
and with a childish good-humoured enjoyment that w^as 
very prepossessing. They generally kept together, these 
poor fellows, said Mr. Superintendent, because they vrere 
at a disadvantage singly, and liable to slights in the 
neighbouring streets. But, if I were Light Jack, I 
should be very slow to interfere oppressively with Dark 
Jack, for, whenever I have had to do with him I have 
f omid him a simple and a gentle fellow. Bearing this in 
mind, I asked his friendly permission to leave him resto- 
ration of beer, in wishing him good night, and thus it 

f2 



68 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

fell out that the last words I heard him say as I blun- 
dered down the worn stairs, were, " Jebblem's elth ! 
Ladles drinks fust!" 

The night was now well on into the morning, but, for 
miles and hours we explored a strange world, where no- 
body ever goes to bed, but everybody is eternally sitting 
up, waiting for Jack. This exploration was among 
a labyrinth of dismal courts and blind alleys, called 
Entries, kept in wonderful order by the police, and in 
much better order than by the corporation : the want of 
gaslight in the most dangerous and infamous of these 
places being quite unworthy of so spirited a town. I 
need describe but two or three of the houses in which 
Jack was waited for as specimens of the rest. Many we 
attained by noisome passages so profoundly dark that we 
felt our way with our hands. Not one of the whole 
number we visited, was without its show of prints and 
ornamental crockery ; the quantity of the latter set forth 
on little shelves and in little cases, in otherwise wretched 
rooms, indicating that Mercantile Jack must have an ex- 
traordinary fondness for crockery, to necessitate so much 
of that bait in his traps. 

Among such gamitin^e, in one front parlour in the dead 
of the night, four women were sitting by a fire. One of 
them had a male child in .her arms. On a stool among 
them was a swarthy youth with a guitar, who had evi- 
dently stopped playing when our footsteps were heard. 

" Well ! how do you do ? " says Mr, Superintendent, 
looking about him. 



meggisson's lot. 69 

'' Pretty well, sir, and hope you gentlemen are going 
to treat us ladies, now you have come to see us." 

" Order there !" says Sharpeye. 

" None of that !" says Quickear. 

Trampfoot, outside, is heard to confide to himself, 
*^ Meggisson's lot this is. And a bad 'un !" 

" Well !" says Mr. Superintendent, laying his hand on 
the shoulder of the swarthy youth, " and who's this f 

" Antonio, sir." 

" And what does he do here?" 

" Come to give us a bit of music. No harm in that, 
I suppose?" 

" A young foreign sailor?" 

" Yes. He's a Spaniard. You're a Spaniard, ain't you, 
Antonio?" 

" Me Spanish." 

" And he don't know a word you say, not he, not if 
you was to talk to him till doomsday." (Triumphantly, 
as if it redounded to the credit of the house.) 

^^ Will he play something?" 

"Oh, yes, if you like. Play something, Antonio. 
You ain't ashamed to play something; are you?" 

The cracked guitar raises the feeblest ghost of a tune, 
and three of the women keep time to it with their heads, 
and the fourth mth the child. If Antonio has brought 
any money in mth him, I am afraid he will never take 
it out, and it even strikes me that his jacket and guitar 
may be in a bad way. But, the look of the young man 
and the tinldinoj of the instrument so change the place 



70 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

in a moment to a leaf out of Don Quixote^ that I wonder 
where his mule is stabled, until he leaves off. 

I am bound to. acknowledge (as it tends rather to my 
imcommercial confusion), that I occasioned a difficulty 
in this estabhshment, by having taken the child in my 
arms. For, on my offering to restore it to a ferocious 
joker not unstimulated by rum, who claimed to be its 
mother, that unnatural parent put her hands behind her, 
and declined to accept it ; backmg into the fireplace, and 
very shrilly declaring, regardless of remonstrance from 
her friends, that she knowed it to be Law, that whoever 
took a child from its mother of his own will, was bound 
to stick to it. The uncommercial sense of being in a 
rather ridiculous position with the poor little child be- 
ginning to be frightened, was relieved by my worthy 
friend and fellow-constable, Trampfoot ; who, laying 
hands on the article as if it were a Bottle, passed it on to 
the nearest woman, and bade her " take hold of that."^ 
As we came out, the Bottle was passed to the ferocious 
joker, and they all sat down as before, including Antonio 
and the guitar. It was clear that there was no such 
thing as a nightcap to this baby's head, and that even he 
never went to bed, but was always kept up — and would 
grow up, kept up — waiting for Jack. 

Later still in the night, we came (by the court '^ where 
the man was murdered," and by the other court across 
the street, into which his body was dragged) to another 
parlour in another Entry, where several people were 
sitting round a fire in just the same way. It was a dirty 
and offensive place, with some ragged clothes drying 



AN ELASTIC FA31ILY. 71 

in it ; but there was a high shelf over the entrance-door 
(to be out of the reach of marauding hands, possibly) 
with two large white loaves on it, and a great piece of 
Cheshire cheese. 

" Well ! " says Mr. Superintendent, with a compre- 
hensive look all round. " How do you do ? " 

" Not much to boast of, sir." Brom the curtse}dng 
woman of the house. " This is my good man, sir." 

" You are not registered as a common Lodging 
House?" 

" No, sir." 

Sharpeye (in the Move-on tone) puts in the pertinent 
inquiry, " Then why ain't you ? " 

" Ain't got no one here, Mr. Sharpeye," rejoins the 
woman and my good man together, "but our o^vn 
family." 

" How many are you in family ? " 

The womaA takes time to count, under pretence of 
coughing, and adds, as one scant of breath, " Seven, sir." 

But she has missed one, so Sharpeye, who knows all 
about it, says : 

" Here's a young man here makes eight, who ain't of 
your family ? " 

" No, Mr. Sharpeye, he's a weekly lodger." 

" What does he do for a living ? " 

The young man here, takes the reply upon himself, and 
shortly answers, " Ain't got nothing to do." 

The young man here, is modestly brooding behind a 
damp apron pendent from a clothes-line. As I glance at 
him I become — but I don't know why — vaguely reminded 



72 THE UXCOMMEECIAL TEAYELLER. 

of Woolwich^ Chatham^ Portsmontli, and Dover. When 
we get out, my respected fellow-constable Sharpeye ad- 
dressing Mr. Superintendent, says : 

" You noticed that young man, sir, in at Darby's ? " 

^^Yes. What is hJ?" 

'' Deserter, sir." 

Mr. Sharpeye further intimates that when we have 
done with his services, he will step back and take that 
young man. Which in course of time he does : feeling at 
perfect ease about finding him, and knowing for a moral 
certainty that nobody in that region will be gone to 
bed. 

Later still in the night, we came to another parlour up 
a step or two from the street, which was very cleanly, 
neatly, even tastefully, kept, and in which, set forth on a 
draped chest of drawers masking the staircase, was such 
a profusion of ornamental crockery, that it would have 
furnished forth a handsome sale-booth at a fair. It 
backed up a stout old lady — Hogarth drew her exact 
likeness more than once — and a boy who was carefully 
writing a copy in a copy-book. 

" Well, ma'am, how do you do ? " 

Sweetly, she can assure the dear gentlemen, sweetly. 
Charmingly, charmingly. And overjoyed to see us ! 

" Why, this is a strange time for this boy to be writing 
his copy. In the middle of the night ! " 

" So it is, dear gentlemen. Heaven bless your welcome 
faces and send ye prosperous, but he has been to the Play 
with a young friend for his diversion, and he combinates 



MAKING MOXEY-BAGS. 73 

his improvement with entertainment, by doing his school- 
writhing afterwards, God be good to ye ! " 

The copy admonished human nature, to subjugate the 
fire of every fierce desire. One might have thought it 
recommended stirring the fire, the old lady so approved 
it. There she sat, rosily beaming at the copy-book and 
the boy, and invoking showers of blessings on our heads, 
when we left her in the middle of the night, waiting for 
Jack. 

Later still in the night, we came to a nauseous room 
with an earth floor, into which the refuse scum of an 
alley trickled. The stench of this habitation was abomi- 
nable ; the seeming poverty of it, diseased and dire. Yet, 
here again, was visitor or lodger — a man sitting before 
the fire, Hke the rest of them elsewhere, and apparently 
not distasteful to the mistress's niece, who was also before 
the fire. The mistress herself had the misfortune of 
being in jail. 

Three weird old women of transcendent ghasthness, 
were at needlework at a table in this room. Says Tramp- 
foot to First Witch, " Wliat are you making ? " Says 
she, "Money-bags." 

"' What are you making ? " retorts Trampf oot, a little 
off his balance. 

" Bags to hold your money," says the wdtch, shaking 
her head, and setting her teeth ; " you as has got it." 

She holds up a common cash-bag, and on the table is 
a heap of such bags. Witch Two laughs at us. Witch 
Three scowls at us. Witch sisterhood all, stitch, stitclu 



74 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

First Witch has a red circle round each eye. I fancy it 
like the beginning of the development of a perverted dia- 
bolical halo, and that when it spreads all round her head^ 
she will die in the odour of devilry. 

Trampfoot wishes to be informed what First Witch 
has got behind the table, down by the side of her, there ? 
Witches Two and Three croak angrily, " Show him the 
child!" 

She drags out a skinny little arm from a brown dust- 
heap on the ground. Adjured not to disturb the child, 
she lets it drop again. Thus we find at last that there is 
one child in the world of Entries who goes to bed — if this 
be bed. 

Mr. Superintendent asks how long are they going to 
work at those bags ? 

How long? First Witch repeats. Going to have 
supper presently. See the cups and saucers, and the 
plates. 

" Late ? Ay ! But we has to 'am our supper afore 
we eats it!" Both the other witches repeat this after 
First Witch, and take the Uncommercial measurement 
with their eyes, as for a charmed winding-sheet. Some 
grim discourse ensues, referring to the mistress of the 
cave, who will be released from jail to-morrow. Witches 
pronounce Trampfoot " right there," when he deems it a 
trying distance for the old lady to walk; she shall be 
fetched by niece in a spring-cart. 

As I took a parting look at First Witch in turning 
away, the red marks round her eyes seemed to have 



DEEAMS OF VERMIN. 75 

already grown larger, and she hungrily and thirstily 
looked out beyond me into the dark doorway, to see if 
Jack were there. For, Jack came even here, and the 
mistress had got into jail through deluding Jack. 

When I at last ended this night of travel and got to 
bed, I failed to keep my mind on comfortable thoughts 
of Seaman's Homes (not overdone with strictness), and 
improved dock regulations giving Jack greater benefit of 
fire and candle aboard ship, through my mind's wander- 
ing among the vermin I had seen. Afterwards the same 
vermin ran all over my sleep. Evermore, when on a 
breezy day I see Poor Mercantile Jack running into port 
with a fair wind under all sail, I shall think of the un- 
sleeping host of devourers who never go to bed, and are 
always in their set traps waiting for him. 



76 THE X7NC0MMEECIAL TEAVELLEB. 



VI. 



EEFRESHMENTS FOR TBAVELLERS, 



In the late high winds I was blown to a great many- 
places — and indeed, wind or no wind, I generally have 
extensive transactions on hand in the article of Air — ^but 
I have not been blown to any English place lately, and I 
very seldom have blown to any English place in my Kfe, 
where I could get anji:hing good to eat and drink in five 
minutes, or where, if I sought it, I was received with a 
welcome. 

This is a curious thing to consider. But before (stimu- 
lated by my own experiences and the representations of 
many fellow-travellers of every imcommercial and com- 
mercial degree) I consider it further, I must utter a pass- 
ing word of wonder concerning high winds. 

I wonder why metropolitan gales always blow so hard 
at Walworth. I cannot imagine what Walworth has 
done, to bring such windy punishment upon itself, as I 
never fail to find recorded in the newspapers when the 
wind has blown at all hard. Brixton seems to have some- 
thinsT on its conscience; Peckham suffers more than a 
virtuous Peckham might be supposed to deserve; the 



NEWSPAPER WINDS. 77 

howling neighbourhood of Deptf ord figures largely in the 
accounts of the ingenious gentlemen who are out in 
every wind that blows, and to whom it is an ill high 
wind that blows no good; but, there can hardly be 
any Walworth left by this time. It must surely be 
blown away. I have read of more chimney-stacks and 
house-copings coming down with terrific smashes at Wal- 
worth, and of more sacred edifices being nearly (not 
quite) blown out to sea from the same accursed locality, 
than I have read of practised thieves with the appearance 
and manners of gentlemen — a popular phenomenon which 
never existed on earth out of fiction and a police report. 
Again : I wonder why people are always blown into the 
Surrey Canal, and into no other piece of water ? Why 
do people get up early and go out in groups, to be blown 
into the Surrey Canal? Do they say to one another, 
^' Welcome Death, so that we get into the newspapers" ? 
Even that would be an insufficient explanation, because 
even then they might sometimes put themselves in the 
way of being blown into the Regent's Canal, instead of 
always saddling Surrey for the field. Some nameless 
policeman, too, is constantly on the slightest provocation, 
getting himself blown into this same Surrey Canal. Will 
Sir Richard Mayne see to it, and restrain that weak- 
minded and feeble-bodied constable ? 

To resume the consideration of the curious question of 
Refreshment. I am a Briton, and, as such, I am aware 
that I never will be a slave — and yet I have latent sus- 
picion that there must be some slavery of wrong custom 
in this matter. 



78 THE unco:mmercial teayeller. 

I travel by railroad. I start from home at seven or 
eight in the morning, after breakfasting hurriedly. What 
with skimming over the open landscape, what with mining 
in the damp bowels of the earth, what with banging 
booming and shrieking the scores of miles away, I am 
hungry when I arrive at the "Refreshment" station 
where I am expected. Please to observe, expected. I 
have said, I am hungry; perhaps I might say, with 
greater point and force, that I am to some extent ex- 
hausted, and that I need — m the expressive French sense 
of the word — to be restored. ^Vliat is provided for my 
restoration? The apartment that is to restore me is a 
whid-trap, cmmingly set to inveigle all the draughts in 
that country-side, and to communicate a special intensity 
and velocity to them as they rotate in two hunicanes : 
one, about my wretched head : one, about my wretched 
legs. The training of the young ladies behind the 
counter who are to restore me, has been from their in- 
fancy directed to the assumption of a defiant dramatic 
show that I am not expected. It is in vain for me to re- 
present to them by my humble and ccnciUatory manners^ 
that I wish to be Uberal. It is in vain for me to repre- 
sent to myself, for the encouragement of my sinking 
soul, that the young ladies have a pecuniary interest in 
my arrival. Neither my reason nor my feehngs can 
make head against the cold glazed glare of eye with 
which I am assured that I am not expected, and not 
wanted. The solitary man among the bottles would 
sometimes take pity on me, if he dared, but he is power- 
less agamst the rights and mights of Woman. (Of the 



RAILWAY EATABLES. 79 

pao-e I make no account^ for, he is a boy, and therefore 
the natural enemy of Creation.) ChiUing fast, in the 
deadly tornadoes to which my upper and lower extremi- 
ties are exposed, and subdued by the moral disadvantage 
at which I stand, I turn my disconsolate eyes on the re- 
freshments that are to restore me. I find that I must 
either scald my throat by insanely ladling into it, against 
time and for no wager, brown hot water stiffened with 
flour ; or, I must make myself flaky and sick with Ban- 
bury cake ; or, I must stuff into my delicate organisa- 
tion, a currant pincushion which I know will swell into 
immeasurable dimensions when it has got there ; or, I 
must extort from an iron-bound quarry, with a fork, as 
if I were farming an inhospitable soil, some glutinous 
lumps of gristle and grease, called pork-pie. While thus 
forlornly occupied, I find that the depressing banquet on 
the table is, in every phase of its profoundly unsatisfac- 
tory character, so like the banquet at the meanest and 
shabbiest of evening parties, that I begin to think I must 
have " brought down" to supper, the old lady unknown, 
blue with cold, who is setting her teeth on edge with a 
cool orange, at my elbow — that the pastrycook who has 
compounded for the company on the lowest terms per 
head, is a fraudulent bankrupt, redeeming his contract 
with the stale stock from his window — ^that, for some 
unexplained reason, the family giving the party have 
become my mortal foes, and have given it on purpose to 
affront me. Or, I fancy that I am " breaking up" again, 
at the evening conversazione at school, charged two-and- 
sixpence in the half-year's bill ; or breaking down again 



80 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

at that celebrated evening party given at Mrs. Bogles's 
boarding-house when I was a boarder there, on which 
occasion Mrs. Bogles was taken in execution by a branch 
of the legal profession who got in as the harp, and was 
removed (with the keys and subscribed capital) to a place 
of durance, half an hour prior to the commencement of 
the festivities. 

Take another case. 

Mr. Grazinglands, of the Midland Counties, came to 
London by railroad one morning last week, accompanied 
by the amiable and fascinating Mrs. Grazinglands. Mr. 
G. is a gentleman of a comfortable property, and had a 
little business to transact at the Bank of England, which 
required the concurrence and signature of Mrs. G. Their 
business disposed of, Hslr. and Mrs. Grazinglands viewed 
the Royal Exchange, and the exterior of St. Paul's Ca- 
thedral. The spirits of Mrs. Grazinglands then gradually 
beginning to flag, Mr. Grazinglands (who is the tenderest 
of husbands) remarked with sympathy, " Arabella, my 
dear, I fear you are faint." Mrs. Grazinglands replied, 
"Alexander, I am rather faint; but don't mind me, I 
shall be better presently," Touched by the feminine 
meekness of this answer, Mr. Grazinglands looked in at 
a pastrycook's window, hesitating as to the expediency of 
lunching at that estabhshment. He beheld nothing to 
eat, but butter in various forms, slightly charged with 
jam, and languidly frizzling over tepid water. Two 
ancient turtle-shells, on which was inscribed the legend, 
" Soups," decorated a glass partition within, enclosing a 
stuffy alcove, from which a ghastly mockery of a mar- 



pastrycook's shops. 81 

riage-breakfast spread on a rickety table, warned tlie 
terrified traveller. An oblong box of stale and broken 
pastry at reduced prices, mounted on a stool, ornamented 
the doorway ; and two high chairs that looked as if they 
were performing on stilts, embellished the counter. Over 
the whole, a young lady presided, whose gloomy haughti- 
ness as she surveyed the street, announced a deep-seated 
grievance against society, and an implacable determina- 
tion to be avenged. From a beetle-haunted Idtchen below 
this institution, fumes arose, suggestive of a class of soup 
which Mr. Grazinglands knew, from painful experience, 
enfeebles the mind, distends the stomach, forces itself 
into the complexion, and tries to ooze out at the eyes. 
As he decided against entering, and turned away, Mrs. 
Grazinglands, becoming perceptibly weaker, repeated, " I 
am rather faint, Alexander, but don't mind me." Urged 
to new efforts by these words of resignation, Mr. Grazing- 
lands looked in at a cold and floury baker's shop, where 
utiKtaxain buns unrelieved by a currant, consorted with 
hard biscuits, a stone filter of cold water, a hard pafe 
clock, and a hard little old woman with flaxen hair, of an 
undeveloped-farinaceous aspect, as if she had been fed 
upon seeds. He might have entered even here, but for 
the timely remembrance coming upon him that Jairing's 
was but round the corner. 

Now, Jairing's being an hotel for families and gentle- 
men, in high repute among the midland comities, Mr. 
Grazinglands plucked up a great spirit when he told Mrs. 
Grazinglands she should have a chop there. That lady, 
likewise, felt that she was going to see Life. Arriving 



82 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAYELLER. 

on that gay and festive scene, they found the second 
waiter, in a flabby undress, cleaning the windows of the 
empty coffee-room ; and the first waiter, denuded of his 
white tie, making up his cruets behind the Post-office 
Directory. The latter (who took them in hand) was greatly 
put out by their patronage, and showed his mind to be 
troubled by a sense of the pressing necessity of instantly 
smuggling ^Irs. Grazinglands into the obscurest comer 
of the building. This slighted lady (who is the pride of 
her division of the county) was immediately conveyed,' 
by several dark passages, and up and down several steps, 
into a penitential apartment at the back of the house, 
where five invalided old plate-warmers leaned up against 
one another under a discarded old melancholy sideboard, 
and where the ^vintrv leaves of all the duiin<>:-tables in 
the house lay thick. Also, a sofa, of incomprehensible 
form regarded from any sofane point of view, murmured 
" Bed ;" while an air of mingled fluffiness and heeltaps, 
added, " Second Waiter's." Secreted in this dismal hold, 
olJjects of a mysterious distrust and suspicion, JVIr. Gra- 
zinglands and his charming partner waited twenty minutes 
for the smoke (for it never came to a fire), twenty-five 
minutes for the sherr}^, half an hour for the tablecloth, 
forty minutes for the knives and forks, three-quarters of 
an hour for the chops, and an hour for the potatoes. On 
settling the little bill — which was not much more than 
the day's pay of a Lieutenant in the navy — ^Mr. Grazing- 
lands took heart to remonstrate against the general 
quahty and cost of his reception. To whom the waiter 
rephed, substantially, that Jahdng's made it a merit to 



MR. JAIRING's style OF BUSINESS. 83 

have accepted him on any terms ; " for/' added the waiter 
(unmistakably coughing at Mrs. Grazinglands, the pride 
of her division of the county), " wjien indiwiduals is not 
staying in the 'Ouse, their favours is not as a rule looked 
upon as making it worth Mr. Jairing's while ; nor is it, 
indeed, a style of business IMr. Jairing wishes." Finally, 
Mr. and JSIrs. Grazinglands passed out of Jairing's hotel 
for Famihes and Gentlemen, in a state of the greatest 
depression, scorned by the bar ; and did not recover their 
self-respect for several days. 

Or, take another case. Take your own case. 

You are going off by railway, from any Terminus. 
You have twenty minutes for dinner, before you go. 
You want your dinner, and, like Doctor Johnson, Sir, 
you like to dine. You present to your mind, a picture 
of the refreshment-table at that terminus. The conven- 
tional shabby evening party supper — accepted as the 
model for all termini and all refreshment stations, be- 
cause it is the last repast known to this state of existence 
of which any human creature would partake, but in the 
direst extremity — sickens yoiu' contemplation, and your 
words are these : '^ I cannot dine on stale sponge-cakes 
that turn to sand in the mouth. I cannot dine on shining 
brown patties, composed of luikno^vn animals within, and 
offering to my view the device of an indigestible star-fish 
in leaden pie-crust without. I cannot dine on a sand- 
mch that has long been pining imder an exhausted re- 
ceiver. I cannot dine on barley-sugar. I cannot dine 
on Toffee." You repair to the nearest hotel, and arrive, 
agitated, in the coffee-room. 

g2 



84 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

It is a most astonishing fact that the waiter is very 
cold to you. Account for it how you may, smooth it 
over how you will, yoji cannot deny that he is cold to 
you. He is not glad to see you, he does not want you, 
he would much rather you hadn't come. He opposes to 
your flushed condition, an immovable composure. As if 
this were not enough, another waiter, born, as it would 
seem, expressly to look at you in this passage of your life, 
stands at a httle distance, with his napkin under his arm 
and his hands folded, looking at you with all his might. 
You impress on your waiter that you have ten minutes 
for dinner, and he proposes that you shall begin mth a 
bit of fish which mil be ready in twenty. That proposal 
declined, he suggests — as a neat originality — " a weal or 
mutton cutlet." You close with either cutlet, any cutlet, 
any thing. He goes, leisurely, behind a door and calls 
down some unseen shaft. A ventriloquial dialogue 
ensues, tending finally to the effect that weal only, is 
available on the spur of the moment. You anxiously 
call out, "Veal, then !" Your waiter, having settled that 
point, returns to array your tablecloth, with a table napkin 
folded cocked-hat wise (slowly, for something out of win- 
dow engages his eye), a white wine-glass, a green wine- 
glass, a blue finger-glass, a tumbler, and a powerful field 
battery of fourteen castors with nothing in them ; or at 
all events — ^which is enough for your purpose — ^with no- 
thing in them that will come out. All this time, the 
other waiter looks at you — ^\\dth an air of mental compa- 
rison and curiosity, now, as if it had occurred to him that 
you are rather like his brother. Half your time gone, 



WAITER BONDAGE. 85 

and nothing come but the jug of ale and the bread, you 
implore your waiter to " see after that cutlet, waiter ; pray 
do !" He cannot go at once, for he is carrying in seven- 
teen pounds of American cheese for you to finish with, 
and a small Landed Estate of celery and watercresses. 
The other waiter changes his leg, and takes a new view 
of you — doubtfully, now, as if he had rejected the re- 
semblance to his brother, and had begim to think you 
more like his aunt or his grandmother. Again you be- 
seech your waiter with pathetic indignation, to " see after 
that cutlet !" He steps out to see after it, and by-and-by, 
when you are going away without it, comes back with 
it. Even then, he will not take the sham silver-cover 
off, without a pause for a flourish, and a look at the 
musty cutlet as if he were surprised to see it — ^which 
cannot possibly be the case, he must have seen it so often 
before. A sort of fur has been produced upon its sur- 
face by the cook's art, and, in a sham silver vessel stag- 
gering on two feet instead of three, is a cutaneous kind 
of sauce, of brown pimples and pickled cucumber. You 
order the bill, but your waiter cannot bring your bill yet, 
because he is bringing, instead, three flinty-hearted pota- 
toes and two grim head of broccoli, like the occasional 
ornaments on area railings, badly boiled. You know that 
you will never come to this pass, any more than to the 
cheese and celery, and you imperatively demand your 
bill ; but, it takes time to get, even when gone for, be- 
cause your waiter has to communicate with a lady who 
lives behind a sash-window in a corner, and who appears 
to have to refer to several Ledocers before she can make 



86 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

it out — as if you had been staying there a year. You 
become distracted to get away, and the other waiter, once 
more changing his leg, still looks at you — ^but suspi- 
ciously, now, as if you had begun to remind him of the 
party who took the great-coats last winter. Your bill at 
last brought and paid, at the rate of sixpence a mouthful, 
your waiter reproachfully reminds you that " attendance 
is not charged for a single meal," and you have to search 
in all your pockets for sixpence more. He has a worse 
opinion of you than ever, when you have given it to him, 
and lets you out into the street with the air of one saying 
to himself, as you cannot doubt he is, " I hope we shall 
never see you here again !" 

Or, take any other of the numerous travelling instances 
in which, with more time at your disposal, you are, have 
been, or may be, equally ill served. Take the old-estab- 
lished Bull's Head with its old-established knife-boxes on 
its old-established sideboards, its old-established flue under 
its old-established four-post bedsteads in its old-established 
airless rooms, its old-established frouziness up-stairs and 
down stairs, its old-established cookery, and its old-estab- 
lished principles of plunder. Comit up your injuries, in 
its side-dishes of ailing sweetbreads in white poultices, of 
apothecaries' powders in rice for curry, of pale stewed 
bits of calf ineffectually relying for an adventitious inte- 
rest on forcemeat balls. You have had experience of the 
old-estabUshed Bull's Head's stringy fowls, with lower 
extremities like wooden legs, sticking up out of the dish ; 
of its cannibahc boiled mutton, gushing horribly among 
its capers, when carved ; of its Httle dishes of pastry — 
roofs of spermaceti ointment, erected over half an apple 



OLD AND NEW HOTELS. 87 

or four gooseberries. Well for you if you have yet for- 
gotten the old-established Bull's Head's fruity port : 
whose reputation was gained solely by the old-established 
price the Bull's Head put upon it, and by the old-estab- 
Hshed air with which the Bull's Head set the glasses and 
D'Oyleys on, and held that Liquid Gout to the three-and- 
sixpenny wax-candle, as if its old-established colour hadn't 
come from the dyer's. 

Or lastly, take to finish with, two cases that we all 
know, every day. 

We all know the new hotel near the station, where it 
is always gusty, going up the lane which is always muddy, 
where we are sure to arrive at night, and where we make 
the gas start awfully when we open the front door. We 
all know the flooring of the passages and staircases that is 
too new, and the walls that are too new, and the house that 
is haunted by the ghost of mortar. We all know the 
doors that have cracked, and the cracked shutters through 
which we get a glimpse of the disconsolate moon. We 
all know the new people who have come to keep the new 
hotel, and who wish they had never come, and who (in- 
evitable result) wish we had never come. We all know 
how much too scant and smooth and bright the new fur- 
niture is, and how it has never settled down, and cannot 
fit itself into right places, and will get into wrong places. 
We all know how the gas, being lighted, shows maps of 
Damp upon the walls. We all know how the ghost of 
mortar passes into our sandwich, stirs our negus, goes up 
to bed with us, ascends the pale bedroom chimney, and 
prevents the smoke from following. We all know how 
a leg of our chair comes off, at breakfast in the morning, 



88 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

and how the dejected waiter attributes the accident to a 
general greenness pervading the estabhshment, and in- 
forms us, in reply to a local inquiry, that he is thankful 
to say he is an entire stranger in that part of the country, 
and is going back to his own connexion on Saturday. 

We all know, on the other hand, the great station 
hotel belonging to the company of proprietors, which has 
suddenly sprung up in the back outskirts of any place we 
like to name, and where we look out of our palatial 
windows, at little back yards and gardens, old summer- 
houses, fowl-houses, pigeon-traps, and pigsties. We all 
know this hotel in which we can get anything we want, 
after its kind, for money ; but w^here nobody is glad to 
see us, or sorry to see us, or minds (our bill paid) whether 
we come or go, or how, or when, or why, or cares about us. 
We all know this hotel, where we have no individuality, 
but put ourselves into the general post, as it were, and are 
sorted and disposed of according to our division. We all 
know that we can get on very well indeed at such a place, 
but still not perfectly well ; and this may be, because the 
place is largely wholesale, and there is a lingering personal 
retail interest within us that asks to be satisfied. 

To sum up. My uncommercial travelhng has not yet 
brought me to the conclusion that we are close to perfec- 
tion in these matters. And just as I do not believe that 
the end of the world will ever be near at hand, so long as 
any of the very tiresome and arrogant people who con- 
stantly predict that catastrophe are left in it, so, I shall 
have small faith in the Hotel Millennium, while any of 
the uncomfortable superstitions I have glanced at remain 
in existence. 



THE GERMAN CHARIOT, 89 



VII. 



TRAVELLING ABROAD. 



I GOT into the travelling chariot — it was of German 
make, roomy, heavy, and imvamished — I got into the tra- 
velling chariot, pulled up the steps after me, shut myself 
in with a smart bang of the door, and gave the word 
"Goon!" 

Immediately, all that W. and S.W. division of London 
began to slide away at a pace so lively, that I was over 
the river, and past the Old Kent-road, and out on Black- 
heath, and even ascending Shooter's Hill, before I had 
had time to look about me in the carriage, like a collected 
traveller. 

I had two ample Imperials on the roof, other fitted 
storage for luggage in front, and other up behind ; I had 
a net for books overhead, great pockets to all the win- 
dows, a leathern pouch or two hung up for odds and 
ends, and a reading-lamp fixed in the back of the chariot, 
in case I should be benighted. I was amply provided in 
all respects, and had no idea where I was going (which 
was delightful), except that I was going abroad. 

So smooth was the old high road, and so fresh were the 



90 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TKAVELLER. 

horses, and so fast went I, that it was midway between 
Gravesend and Rochester, and the widening river was 
bearing the ships, white-sailed or black-smoked, out to 
sea, when I noticed by the wayside a very queer small 
boy. 

^^ Halloa !" said I, to the very queer small boy, ^^ where 
do you live?" 

" At Chatham," says he. 

" What do you do there?" says I. 

" I go to school," says he. 

I took him up in a moment, and we went on. Pre- 
sently, the very queer small boy says, " This is GadshiU 
we are coming to, where Falstaff went out to rob those 
travellers, and ran away." 

" You know something about Falstaff, eh ?" said I. 

" All about him," said the very queer small boy. " I 
am old (I am nine), and I read all sorts of books. But 
do let us stop at the top of the hill, and look at the 
house there, if you please !" 

" You admire that house?" said I. 

" Bless you, sir," said the very queer small boy, " when 
I was not more than half as old as nine, it used to be a 
treat for me to be brought to look at it. And now, I am 
nine, I come by myself to look at it. And ever since I 
can recollect, my father, seeing me so fond of it, has 
often said to me, ^If you were to be very persevering 
and were to work hard, you might some day come to live 
in it.' Though that's impossible!" said the very queer 
small boy, drawing a low breath, and now staring at the 
house out of window with all his might. 



FROM ENGLAND TO FEANCE. 91 

I was rather amazed to be told this by the very queer 
small boy ; for that house happens to be my house, and 
I have reason to beheve that what he said was true. 

Well ! I made no halt there, and I soon dropped the 
very queer small boy and went on. Over the road where 
the old Romans used to march, over the road where the 
old Canterbury pilgrims used to go, over the road where 
the travelling trains of the old imperious priests and 
princes used to jingle on horseback between the continent 
and this Island through the mud and water, over the 
road where Shakespeare hummed to himself, "Blow, 
blow, thou winter wind," as he sat in the saddle at the 
gate of the inn yard noticing the carriers ; all among 
the cherry orchards, apple orchards, corn-fields, and hop- 
gardens ; so went I, by Canterbury to Dover. There, 
the sea was tumbhng in, with deep sounds, after dark, 
and the revolving French Hght on Cape Grinez was seen 
regularly bursting out and becoming obscured, as if the 
head of a gigantic light-keeper in an anxious state of 
mind were interposed every half minute, to look how it 
was burning. 

Early in the morning I was on the deck of the steam- 
packet, and we were aiming at the bar in the usual in- 
tolerable manner, and the bar was aiming at us in the 
usual intolerable manner, and the bar got by far the best 
of it, and we got by far the worst — all in the usual in- 
tolerable manner. 

But, when I was clear of the Custom House on the 
other side, and when I began to make the dust fly on the 
thirsty French roads, and Avhen the twigsome trees by 




92 THE UNCOMMEECIAL TRAVELLER. 

the wayside (which, I suppose, never will grow leafy, for 
they never did) guarded here and there a dusty soldier, 
or field labourer, baking on a heap of broken stones^ 
sound asleep in a fiction of shade, I began to recover my 
travelling spirits. Coming upon the breaker of the broken 
stones, in a hard hot shining hat, on which the sun 
played at a distance as on a burning-glass, I felt that 
now, indeed, I was in the dear old France of my affec- 
tions. I should have known it, without the well-remem- 
bered bottle of rough ordinary wine, the cold roast fowl, 
the loaf, and the pinch of salt, on which I lunched with 
unspeakable satisfaction, from one of the stuffed pockets 
of the chariot. 

I must have fallen asleep after lunch, for when a 
bright face looked in at the window, I started, and said : 

" Good God, Louis, I dreamed you were dead !" 

My cheerful servant laughed, and answered : 

" Me ? Not at all, su-." 

"How glad I am to wake! What are we doing, 
Louis'?" 

" We go to take relay of horses. Will you walk up 
the hill?" 

" Certainly." 

Welcome the old French hill, with the old French 
lunatic (not in the most distant degree related to Sterne's 
Maria) living in a thatched dog-kennel half way up, and 
flying out with his crutch and his big head and extended 
nightcap, to be beforehand with the old men and women 
exhibiting crippled children, and with the children ex- 
hibiting old men and women, ugly and bhnd, who always 



OLD FRENCH HIGHWAYS. 93 

seemed by resurrectionary process to be recalled out of 
the elements for the sudden peopling of the solitude ! 

" It is well/' said I, scattering among them what small 
coin I had ; " here comes Louis, and I am quite roused 
from my nap." 

We journeyed on again, and I welcomed every new 
assurance that France stood where I had left it. There 
were the posting-houses, with their archways, dirty 
stable-yards, and clean post-masters' wives, bright women 
of business, looking on at the putting-to of the horses ; 
there were the postilions counting what money they got, 
into their hats, and never making enough of it; there 
were the standard population of grey horses of Flanders 
descent, invariably biting one another when they got a 
chance ; there were the fleecy sheepskins, looped on 
over their uniforms by the postilions, like bibbed aprons, 
when it blew and rained ; there were their jack-boots, 
and their cracking whips ; there were the cathedrals that 
I got out to see, as under some cruel bondage, in no 
wise desiring to see them; there were the little towns 
that appeared to have no reason for being towns, since 
most of their houses were to let and nobody could be 
induced to look at them, except the people who couldn't 
let them and had nothing else to do but look at them all 
day. I lay a night upon the road and enjoyed de- 
lectable cookery of potatoes, and some other sensible 
things, adoption of which at home would inevitably be 
shown to be fraught with ruin, somehow or other, to 
that rickety national blessing, the British farmer; and 
at last I was rattled, like a single pill in a box, over 



94 THE UXCOMMEECIAL TRAVELLER. 

leagues of stones, until — madly cracking, plunging, and 
flourisliing two grey tails about — ^I made my triumplial 
entry into Paris. 

At Paris, I took an upper apartment for a few days in 
one of the hotels of the Rue de Eivoli : my front windows 
looking into the garden of the Tuileries (where the prin- 
cipal difference between the nursemaids and the flowers 
seemed to be that the former were locomotive and the 
latter not) : my back windows looking at all the other 
back windows in the hotel, and deep down into a paved 
yard, where my German chariot had retired under a 
tight-fittmg archway, to all appearance, for life, and 
where bells rang all day without anybody's minding 
them but certain chamberlains with feather brooms and 
green baize caps, w^ho here and there leaned out of some 
high >;\dndow placidly looking do^Ti, and where neat 
Tvaiters w^ith trays on their left shoulders passed and re- 
passed from morning to night. 

Whenever I am at Paris, I am dragged by invisible 
force into the Morgue. I never want to go there, but 
am always pulled there. One Christmas Day, when I 
would rather have been anywhere else, I was attracted 
in, to see an old gTey man lying all alone on his cold 
bed, with a tap of water turned on over his grey hair, 
and running, drip, drip, drip, down his wretched face 
until it got to the comer of his mouth, where it took a 
turn, and made him look sly. One New Year's Morning 
(by the same token, the sun was shining outside, and 
there was a mountebank balancing a feather on his nose, 
within a yard of the gate), I was pulled in again, to 



THE MORGUE. 95 

look at a flaxen-haired boy of eighteen with a heart 
hanging on his breast — " from his mother/' was engraven 
on it — who had come into the net across the river, with a 
bullet-wound in his fair forehead and his hands cut with 
a knife, but whence or how was a blank mystery. This 
time, I was forced into the same dread place, to see a 
large dark man whose disfigurement by water was in a 
frightful manner, comic, and whose expression was that 
of a prize-fighter w^ho had closed his eyelids under a 
heavy blow, but was going immediately to open them, 
shake his head, and " come up smihng." O what this 
large dark man cost me in that bright city ! 

It was very hot weather, and he was none the better 
for that, and I was much the worse. Indeed, a very 
neat and pleasant little woman with the key of her 
lodging on her forefinger, who had been showing him to 
her Httle girl while she and the child ate sweetmeats, 
observed monsieur looking poorly as we came out 
together, and asked monsieur, with her wondering little 
eyebrows prettily raised, if there were anything the 
matter? Faintly replying in the negative, monsieur 
crossed the road to a wine-shop, got some brandy, and 
resolved to freshen himself with a dip in the great float- 
ing bath on the river. 

The bath was crowded in the usual airy manner, by a 
male population in striped drawers of various gay colom^s, 
who walked up and down arm in arm, drank coffee, 
smoked cigars, sat at little tables, conversed politely with 
the damsels who dispensed the towels, and every now and 
then pitched themselves into the river head foremost. 



96 THE UNCOMMEKCIAL TRAVELLEK. 

and came out again to repeat this social routine. I made 
haste to participate in the water part of the entertain- 
ments, and was in the full enjoyment of a delightful bath, 
when all in a moment I was seized with an unreasonable 
idea that the large dark body was floating straight at me. 

I was out of the river, and dressing instantly. In the 
shock I had taken some water into my mouth, and it 
turned me sick, for I fancied that the contamination 
of the creature was in it. I had got back to my cool 
darkened room in the hotel, and was lying on a sofa 
there, before I began to reason with myself. 

Of course, I knew perfectly well that the large dark 
creature was stone dead, and that I should no more come 
upon him out of the place where I had seen him dead, 
than I should come upon the cathedral of Notre-Dame in 
an entirely new situation. What troubled me was the 
picture of the creature ; and that had so curiously and 
strongly painted itself upon my brain, that I could not 
get rid of it until it was worn out. 

I noticed the peculiarities of this possession, while it 
was a real discomfort to me. That very day, at dinner, 
some morsel on my plate looked like a piece of him, and 
I was glad to get up and go out. Later in the evening, 
I was walking along the Eue St. Honore, when I saw a 
bill at a public room there, announcing small-sword exer- 
cise, broad-sword exercise, wresthng, and other such feats. 
I went in, and some of the sword play being very skilful, 
remained. A specimen of our own national sport. The 
British Boaxe, was announced to be given at the close of 
the evening. In an evil hour, I determined to wait for 



HAUNTED. 97 

this Boaxe, as became a Briton. It was a clumsy speci- 
men (executed by two English grooms out of place), but, 
one of the combatants, receivino; a straio-ht rifrht-hander 
with the glove between his eyes, did exactly what the 
large dark creature in the Morgue had seemed going to 
do — and finished me for that night. 

There was rather a sickly smell (not at all an unusual 
fragrance in Paris) in the little ante-room of my apart- 
ment at the hotel. The large dark creature in the Morgue 
was by no direct experience associated with my sense of 
smell, because, when I came to the knowledge of him, he 
lay behind a wall of thick plate-glass, as good as a wall 
of steel or marble for that matter. Yet the whiff of the 
room never failed to reproduce -him. Wliat was more 
curious, was the capriciousness with which his portrait 
seemed to light itself up in my mind, elsewhere. I might 
be walking in the Palais Eoyal, lazily enjojring the shop 
windows, and might be regaling myself w^ith one of the 
ready-made clothes shops that are set out there. My 
eyes, wandering over impossible-waisted dressing-go^Mis 
and luminous waistcoats, would fall upon the master, or 
the shopman, or even the very dummy at the door, and 
would suo;cTest to me, " Somethino; like him !" — and in- 

CO J o 

stantly I was sickened again. 

This would happen at the theatre, in the same manner. 
Often it would happen in the street, when I certainly 
was not looking for the likeness, and when probably 
there was no likeness there. It was not because the 
creature was dead that I was so haunted, because I know 
that I might have been (and I know it because I have 

H 



98 THE UNCOMMERCIAX. TKAVELLEK. 

been) equally attended by the image of a living aversion. 
This lasted about a week. The picture did not fade by 
deirrees, in the sense that it became a whit less forcible 
and distinct, but in the sense that it obtruded itself less 
and less frequently. The experience may be worth con- 
sidering by some who have the care of children. It 
would be difficult to overstate the intensity and accuracy 
of an intelligent child's observation. At that impressible 
time of life, it must sometimes produce a fixed"^m- 
pression. If the fixed impression be of an object ter- 
rible to the child, it will be (for want of reasoning upon) 
inseparable from great fear. Force the child at such a 
time, be Spartan with it, send it into the dark against its 
will, leave it in a lonely bedroom against its will, and you 
had better mm^der it. • 

On a bright morning I rattled away from Paris, in 
the German chariot, and left the large dark creature 
behind me for good. I ought to confess, though, that I 
had been dra^ii back to the Morgue, after he was put 
under ground, to look at his clothes, and that I found 
them frightfully like him — ^particularly his boots. How- 
ever, I rattled away for Switzerland, looking forward 
and not backward, and so we parted company. 

Welcome again, the long long spell of France, with 
the queer country inns, full of vases of flowers and 
clocks, in the dull little towns, and with the little popu- 
lation not at all dull on the little Boulevard in the 
evening, under the little trees ! Welcome Monsieur the 
Cure walking alone in the early morning a short way 
out of the to^vn, reading that eternal Breviary of yours, 



straudenheim's. 99 

which surely might be almost read, without book, by this 
time ? Welcome Monsieur the Cure, later in the day, 
jolting through the highway dust (as if you had already 
ascended to the cloudy region), in a very big-headed 
cabriolet, "v^-ith the dried mud of a dozen winters on it. 
Welcome as^ain Monsieur the Cure, as we exchano-e 
salutations : you, straightening your back to look at the 
German chariot, while picking in your little village 
garden a vegetable or two for the day's soup : I, looking 
out of the German chariot window in that delicious tra- 
veller' s-trance which knows no cares, no yesterdays, no 
to-morrows, nothing but the passing objects and the 
passmg scents and sounds ! And so I came, in due 
course of dehght, to Strasbourg, where I passed a wet 
Sunday evening at a window, while an idle trifle of a 
vaudeville was played for me at the opposite house. 

How such a large house came to have only three 
people living in it, was its own affair. There were at 
least a score of windows in its high roof alone; how 
many in its grotesque front, I soon gave up counting. 
The owner was a shopkeeper, by name Straudenheim ; 
by trade — ^I couldn't make out what by trade, for he had 
forborne to write that up, and his shop was shut. 

At first, as I looked at Straudenheim's, through the 
steadily f alhng rain, I set him up in business in the 
goose-liver line. But, inspection of Straudenheim, 
who became visible at a window on the second floor, 
convinced me that there was something more precious 
than liver in the case. He wore a black velvet skull- 
cap, and looked usurious and rich. A large-lipped, pear- 

h2 



100 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

nosed old man, with white hair, and keen eyes, though 
near-sighted. He was writing at a desk, was Strauden- 
heim, and ever and again left off writing, put his pen in 
his mouth, and went through actions with his right hand, 
like a man steadying piles of cash. Five-franc pieces, 
Straudenheim, or golden Napoleons ? A jeweller, Strau- 
denheim, a dealer in money, a diamond merchant, or 
what? 

Below Straudenheim, at a window on the first floor, 
sat his housekeeper — far from young, but of a comely 
presence, suggestive of a well-matured foot and ankle. 
She was cheerily dressed, had a fan in her hand, and 
wore large gold earrings and a large gold cross. She 
would have been out holiday-making (as I settled it) 
but for the pestilent rain. Strasbourg had given up 
holiday-making for that once, as a bad job, because the 
ram was jerkmg in gushes out of the old roof-spouts, 
and running in a brook down the middle of the street. 
The housekeeper, her arms folded on her bosom and her 
fan tapping her chin, was bright and smiling at her 
open window, but otherwise Straudenheim's house front 
was very dreary. The housekeeper's w^as the only open 
window in it ; Straudenheim' kept himself close, though 
it was a sultry evening when ah^ is pleasant, and though 
the rain had brought into the town that vague refreshing 
smell of grass which rain does bring in the summer- 
time. 

The dim appearance of a man at Straudenheim's 
shoulder, inspired me with a misgiving that somebody 
had come to murder that flourishing merchant for the 



straudexheim's housekeeper. 101 

wealth w^th which I had handsomely endowed him : the 
rather, as it was an excited man, lean and long of figure, 
and evidently stealthy of foot. But, he conferred with 
Straudenheim instead of doing him a mortal injury, and 
then they both softly opened the other window of that 
room — which was immediately over the housekeeper's — 
and tried to see her by looking down. And my opinion 
of Straudenheim was much lowered when I saw that 
eminent citizen spit out of Avindow, clearly with the hope 
of spitting on the housekeeper. 

The unconscious housekeeper fanned herself, tossed 
her head, and laughed. Though unconscious of Strau- 
denheim, she was conscious of somebody else — of me ? — 
there was nobody else. 

After leaning so far out of window, that I confidently 
expected to see their heels tilt up, Straudenheim and the 
lean man drew their heads in and shut the window. 
Presently, the house door secretly opened, and they 
slowly and spitefully crept forth into the pouring rain. 
They were coming over to me (I thought) to demand 
satisfaction for my looking at the housekeeper, when they 
plunged into a recess in the architecture under my window 
and dragged out the puniest of little soldiers, begirt with 
the most innocent of httle swords. The tall glazed head- 
dress of this warrior, Straudenheim instantly knocked off, 
and out of it fell two sugar-sticks, and three or four large 
lumps of sugar. 

The warrior made no effort to recover his property or 
to pick up his shako, but looked with an expression of 
attention at Straudenheim when he kicked him five 



102 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

times, and also at the lean man when he kicked him five 
times, and again at Strandenheim when he tore the breast 
of his (the warrior's) httle coat open, and shook all his 
ten fingers in his face, as if they were ten thousand. 
When these outrages had been committed, Stranden- 
heim and his man went into the house again and barred 
the door. A wonderful circumstance was, that the house- 
keeper who saw it all (and who could have taken six such 
warriors to her buxom bosom at once), only fanned her- 
self and lauo-hed as she had lauo-hed before, and seemed 
to have no opinion about it, one way or other. 

But, the chief effect of the drama was the remarkable 
vengeance taken by the Httle warrior. Left alone in the 
rain, he picked up his shako ; put it on, all wet and dhi:y 
as it was ; retued into a court, of which Straudenheim's 
house formed the comer ; wheeled about ; and bringing 
his two forefingers close to the top of his nose, robbed 
them over one another, crosswise, in derision, defiance, 
and contempt of Strandenheim. Although Stranden- 
heim could not possibly be supposed to be conscious of 
this strange proceeding, it so inflated and comforted the 
httle warrior's soul, that twice he went away, and twice 
came back into the court to repeat it, as though it must 
goad his enemy to madness. Not only that, but he after- 
wards came back with two other small warriors, and they 
all three did it together. Not only that — as I hve to tell 
the tale ! — ^but just as it was falling quite dark, the three 
came back, bringing with them a huge bearded Sapper, 
whom they moved, by recital of the original wi^ong, to go 
thrgugh the same performance, with the same complete 



SWISS. 103 

absence of all possible knowledge of it or the part of 
Straudenheim. And then they all went away, arm in 
arm, singing. 

I went away, too, in the German chariot, at sunrise, 
and rattled on, day after day, like one in a sweet dream ; 
with so many clear little bells on the harness of the 
horses, that the nursery rhyme about Banbury Cross and 
the venerable lady who rode in state there, was always in 
my ears. And now I came to the land of wooden houses, 
innocent cakes, thin butter soup, and spotless little inn 
bedrooms with a family likeness to Dairies. And now 
the Swiss marksmen were for ever rifle-shooting at marks 
across gorges, so exceedingly near my ear, that I felt like 
a new Gesler in a Canton of Tells, and went in highly- 
deseiwed danger of my tyrannical life. The prizes at 
these shootings, were watches, smart handkerchiefs, hats, 
spoons, and (above all) tea-trays ; and at these contests I 
came upon a more than usually accomphshed and amiable 
countryman of my own, who had shot himself deaf in 
whole years of competition, and had won so many tea- 
trays that he went about the country with his carriage 
full of them, like a glorified Cheap-Jack. 

In the mountain coimtry into which I had now travelled, 
a yoke of oxen were sometimes hooked on before the 
post-horses, and I went lumbering up, up, up, through 
mist and rain, with the roar of falling water for change 
of music. Of a sudden, mist and rain would clear away, 
and I would come down into picturesque httle towns 
with gleaming spires and odd towers ; and would stroll 
afoot into market-places in steep winding streets, where 



104 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

a hundred women in bodices, sold eggs and honey, 
butter and fruit, and suckled their children as they sat 
by their clean baskets, and had such enormous goitres 
(or glandular swellings in the throat) that it became a 
science to know where the nurse ended and the child 
began. About this time, I deserted my German chariot 
for the back of a mule (in colour and consistency so very 
like a dusty old hair trunk I once had at school, that I 
half expected to see my initials in brass-headed nails on 
his backbone), and went up a thousand rugged ways, and 
looked do^\Ti at a thousand woods of fir and pine, and 
would on the whole have preferred my mule's keeping a 
little nearer to the inside, and not usually travelling with 
a hoof or two over the precipice — though much consoled 
by explanation that this was to be attributed to his great 
sagacity, by reason of his carrying broad loads of wood 
at other times, and not being clear but that I myself be- 
longed to that station of life, and required as much room 
as they. He brought me safely, in his own wise way, 
among the passes of the Alps, and here I enjoyed a dozen 
climates a day; being now (like Don Quixote on the 
back of the wooden horse) in the region of wind, now in 
the region of fire, now in the region of unmelting ice 
and snow. Here, I passed over trembling domes of ice, 
beneath which the cataract was roaring ; and here was 
received under arches of icicles, of unspeakable beauty ; 
and here the sweet air was so bracing and so light, that 
at halting-times I rolled in the snow when I saw my 
mule do it, thinking that he must know best. At this 
part of the journey we would come, at mid-day, into half 



ALPINE. 105 

an hour's thaw : when the rough mountain inn would be 
found on an island of deep mud in a sea of snow, while 
the baiting strings of mules, and the carts full of casks 
and bales, which had been in an Arctic condition a mile 
off, would steam again. By such ways and means, I 
would come to the cluster of chalets where I had to turn 
out of the track to see the waterfall ; and then, uttering 
a howl like a young giant, on espying a traveller — in 
other words, something to eat — coming up the steep, the 
idiot lying on the wood-pile who sunned himself and 
nursed his goitre, would rouse the woman-guide within 
the hut, who would stream out hastily, throwing her 
child over one of her shoulders and her goitre over the 
other, as she came along. I slept at religious houses, 
and bleak refuges of many kinds, on this journey, and 
by the stove at night heard stories of travellers who had 
perished within call, in wreaths and drifts of snow. One 
night the stove within, and the cold outside, awakened 
childish associations long forgotten, and I dreamed I was 
in Eussia — the identical serf out of a picture-book I had, 
before I could read it for myself — and that I was going to 
be knouted by a noble personage in a fur cap, boots, and 
earrings, who, I think, must have come out of some 
melodrama. 

Commend me to the beautiful waters among these 
mountains! Though I was not of their mind: they, 
being inveterately bent on getting down into the level 
country, and I ardently desiring to linger where I was. 
What desperate leaps they took, what dark abysses they 
plunged into, what rocks they wore away, what echoes 



106 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

they invoked ! In one part where I wentj they were 
pressed into the service of carrying wood down, to be 
burnt next winter, as costly fuel, in Italy. But, their 
fierce savage nature was not to be easily constrained, and 
they fought with every limb of the wood ; whirling it 
round and round, stripping its bark away, dashing it 
against pointed corners, driving it out of the course, and 
roaring and flying at the peasants who steered it back 
again from the bank with long stout poles, Alas ! con- 
cun'ent streams of time and water carried me down fast, 
and I came, on an exquisitely clear day, to the Lausanne 
shore of the Lake of Geneva, where I stood looking at 
the bright blue water, the flushed white mountains oppo- 
site, and the boats at my feet with their furled Mediter- 
ranean sails, showing like enormous magnifications of 
this goose-quill pen that is now in my hand. 

— The sky became overcast without any notice ; a 
wind very like the March east wind of England, blew 
across me ; and a voice said, " How do you like it ? Will 
it do?" 

I had merely shut myself, for half a minute, in a Ger- 
man travelUng chariot that stood for sale in the Carriage 
Department of the London Pantechnicon. I had a com- 
mission to buy it, for a friend who was going abroad; 
and the look and manner of the chariot, as I tried the 
cushions and the springs, brought all these hints of tra- 
' veiling remembrance before me. 

■" It will do very well," said I, rather sorrowfully, as I 
got out at the other door, and shut the carriage up. 



DARING OF CIVILIANS. 107 



VIII. 



THE GREAT TASMANIA S CARGOo 



I TRAVEL constantly, up and down a certain line of 
railway that has a terminus in London. It is the railway 
for a large military depot, and for other large barracks. 
To the best of my serious beKef , I have never been on 
that railway by daylight, without seeing some handcuffed 
deserters in the train. 

It is in the nature of things that such an institution as 
our English army should have many bad and troublesome 
characters in it. But, this is a reason for, and not against, 
its being made as acceptable as possible to well-disposed 
men of decent behaviour. Such men are assuredly not 
tempted into the ranks, by the beastly inversion of na- 
tural laws, and the compulsion to live in w^orse than 
swinish foulness. Accordingly, when any such Circum- 
locutional embellishments of the soldier's condition have 
of late been brought to notice, we civilians, seated in outer 
darkness cheerfully meditating on an Income Tax, have 
considered the matter as being our business, and have 
shown a tendency to declare that we would rather not 
have it misregulated, if such declaration may, without 



108 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

violence to tlie Church Catechism, be hinted to those 
who are put in authority over us. 

Any animated description of a modern battle, any 
private soldier's letter published in the newspapers, any 
page of the records of the Victoria Cross, will show that 
in the ranks of the army, there exists under all disad- 
vantages as fine a sense of duty as is to be found in any 
station on earth. Who doubts that if we all did our duty 
as faithfully as the soldier does his, this world would be a 
better place ? There may be greater difficulties in our 
way than in the soldier's. Not disputed. But, let us at 
least do our duty towards him. 

I had got back again to that rich and beautiful port 
where I had looked after Mercantile Jack, and I was walk- 
ing up a hill there, on a wild March morning. My con- 
versation with my official friend Pangloss, by whom I 
was accidentally accom]3anied, took this direction as we 
took the up-hill direction, because the object of my un- 
commercial journey was to see some discharged soldiers 
who had recently come home from India. There were 
men of Havelock's among them ; there were men who 
had been in many of the great battles of the great Indian 
campaign, among them ; and I was curious to note what 
our discharged soldiers looked like, when they were done 
with. 

I was not the less interested (as I mentioned to my 
official friend Pangloss) because these men had claimed 
to be discharged, when their right to be discharged was 
not admitted. They had behaved with unblemished 
fidelity and bravery ; but, a change of circumstances had 



CIRCUMLOCUTION OFFICE (PAGODA DEPARTMENT). 109 

arisen, which, as they considered, put an end to their 
compact and entitled them to enter on a new one. Their 
demand had been blunderingly resisted by the authorities 
in India ; but, it is to be presumed that the men were 
not far wrong, inasmuch as the bungle had ended in 
their being sent home discharged, in pursuance of orders 
from home. (There was an immense waste of money, of 
course.) 

Under these circumstances — thought I, as I walked up 
the hill, on which I accidentally encountered my official 
friend — under these circumstances of the men having suc- 
cessfully opposed themselves to the Pagoda Department 
of that great Circumlocution Office on which the sun 
never sets and the light of reason never rises, the Pagoda 
Department will have been particularly careful of the 
national honom\ It will have shown these men, in the 
scrupulous good faith, not to say the generosity, of its 
dealing with them, that great national authorities can 
have no small retaliations and revenges. It will have 
made every provision for their health on the passage 
home, and will have landed them, restored from their 
campaigning fatigues by a sea-voyage, pure air, sound 
food, and good medicines. And I pleased myself with 
dwelling beforehand, on the great accounts of their per- 
sonal treatment which these men would carry into their 
various towns and villages, and on the increasing popu- 
larity of the service that would insensibly follow. I 
almost began to hope that the hitherto-never-failing 
deserters on my raikoad, would by-and-by become a 
phenomenon. 



110 THE UNCOMMERCIAL. TRAVELLER. 

In this agreeable frame of mind I entered the work- 
house of Liverpool. — For^ the cultivation of laurels in a 
sandy soil, had brought the soldiers in question to that 
abode of Glory. 

Before going into their wards to visit them, I inquired 
how they had made their triumphant entry there ? They 
had been brought through the rain in carts, it seemed, 
from the landing-place to the gate, and had then been 
carried up-staks on the backs of paupers. Their groans 
and pains during the performance of this glorious pageant, 
had been so distressing, as to bring tears into the eyes of 
spectators but too well accustomed to scenes of suffering. 
The men were so dreadfully cold, that those who could get 
near the fires were hard to be restrained from thrusting 
their feet in among the blazing coals. They were so 
horribly reduced, that they were awful to look upon. 
Racked with dysentery and blackened with scurvy, one 
hundred and forty wretched soldiers had been revived 
with brandy and laid in bed. 

My official friend Pangloss is lineally descended from 
a learned doctor of that name, who was once tutor to 
Candide, an ingenious young gentleman of some cele- 
brity. In his personal character, he is as humane and 
worthy a gentleman as any I know ; in his official capa^ 
city, he unfortunately preaches the doctrines of his re- 
nowned ancestor, by demonstrating on all occasions that 
we live in the best of all possible official worlds. 

" In the name of Humanity," said I, " how did the 
men fall into this deplorable state ? Was the ship well 
found in stores ?" 



MY OFFICIAL FRIEND PANGLOSS. Ill 

" I am not here to asseverate that I know the fact, of 
my o^vn knowledge/' answered Pangloss, "but I have 
irrounds for assertinsi: that the stores were the best of aU 
possible stores." 

A medical officer laid before ns, a handful of rotten 
biscuit, and a handful of split peas. The biscuit was a 
honeycombed heap of maggots, and the excrement of 
maggots. The peas were even harder than this filth. 
A similar handful had beeA experimentally boiled, six 
hours, and had shown no signs of softening. These were 
the stores on which the soldiers had been fed. 

'' The beef " I began, when Pangloss cut me 

short. 

" Was the best of all possible beef," said he. 

But, behold, there was laid before us certain evidence 
given at the Coroner's Inquest, holden on some of the 
men (who had obstinately died of their treatment), and 
from that evidence it appeared that the beef was the 
worst of all possible beef ! 

" Then I lay my hand upon my heart, and take my 
stand," said Pangloss, " by the pork, which was the best 
of all possible pork." 

" But look at this food before our eyes, if one may so 
misuse the word," said I. " Would any Inspector who 
did his duty, pass such abomination ?" 

" It ought not to have been passed," Pangloss ad- 
mitted. 

" Then the authorities out there ^" I began, when 

Pangloss cut me short again. 

" There would certainly seem to have been something 



112 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

wrong somewhere," said he; "but I am prepared to 
prove that the authorities out there, are the best of all 
possible authorities." 

I never heard of any impeached public authority in my 
life, who was not the best pubhc authority in existence. 

" We are told of these unfortunate men being laid 
low by scurvy," said I. " Since hme-juice has been re- 
gularly stored and served out in our navy, surely that 
disease, which used to devastate it, has almost disappeared ? 
Was there lime-juice aboard this transport ? " 

My official friend was begmning " the best of all pos- 
sible " when an inconvenient medical forefinger 

pointed out another passage in the evidence, from which 
it appeared that the lime-juice had been bad too. Not 
to mention that the vinegar had been bad too, the vege- 
tables bad too, the cooking accommodation insufficient 
(if there had been anything worth mentioning to cook), 
the water supply exceedingly inadequate, and the beer 
sour. 

"Then, the men," said Pangloss, a little imtated, 
" were the worst of all possible men." 

"In what respect?" I asked. 

" Oh ! Habitual drunkards," said Pangloss. 

But, again the same incorrigible medical forefinger 
pointed out another passage in the evidence, shomng that 
the dead men had been examined after death, and that 
they, at least, could not possibly have been habitual 
drunkards, because the organs within them which must 
have shown traces of that habit, were perfectly sound. 

"' And besides," said the three doctors present, one and 



A SHOCKING SIGUT. 113 

all, " habitual drunkards brought as low as these men 
have been, could not recover under care and food, as the 
great majority of these men are recovering. They would 
not have strength of constitution to do it." 

" Reckless and improvident dogs, then," said Pangloss. 
'' Always are — nine times out of ten." 

I turned to the master of the workhouse, and asked 
him whether the men had any money ? 

" Money?" said he. " I have in my iron safe, nearly 
four hundred pounds of theirs ; the agents have nearly a 
hundred pounds more; and many of them have left 
money in Indian banks besides." 

"Hah!" said I to myself, as we went up-stairs, "this 
is not the best of all possible stories, I doubt!" 

We went into a large ward, containing some twenty 
or five-and-t'wenty beds. We went into several such wards, 
one after another. I find it very difficult to indicate 
what a shocking sight I saw in them, without frightening 
the reader from the perusal of these lines, and defeating 
my object of making it laiown. 

O the sunken eyes that turned to me as I walked be- 
tween the rows of beds, or — worse still — that glazedly 
looked at the white ceiling, and saw nothing and cared 
for nothing ! Here, lay the skeleton of a man, so lightly 
covered with a thin unwholesome skin, that not a bone 
in the anatomy was clothed, and I could clasp the arm 
above the elbow, in my finger and thumb. Here, lay a 
man with the black scui^y eating his legs away, his gums 
gone, and his teeth all gamit and bare. This bed was 
empty, because gangrene had set in, and the patient had 

I 



114 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

died but yesterday. That bed was a hopeless one, because 
its occupant was sinking fast, and could only be roused 
to turn the poor pinched mask of face upon the pillow, 
with a feeble moan. The awful thinness of the fallen 
cheeks, the awful brightness of the deep-set eyes, the 
lips of lead, the hands of ivory, the recumbent human 
images lying in the shadow of death with a kind of 
solemn twilight on them, like the sixty who had died 
aboard the ship and were lying at the bottom of the sea, 
O Pangloss, God forgive you ! 

In one bed, lay a man whose life had been saved (as 
it was hoped) by deep incisions in the feet and legs. 
While I was speaking to him, a nurse came up to change 
the poultices which this operation had rendered necessary, 
and I had an instinctive feeling that it was not well to 
turn away, merely to spare myself. He was sorely wasted 
and keenly susceptible, but the efforts he made to subdue 
any expression of impatience or suffering, were quite 
heroic. It was easy to see, in the shrinking of the figure, 
and the drawing of the bed-clothes over the head, how 
acute the endm^ance was, and it made me shrink too, as 
if I were in pain ; but, when the new bandages were on, 
and the poor feet were composed again, he made an apo- 
logy for himself (though he had not uttered a word), and 
said plaintively, "I am so tender and weak, you see, 
sir!" Neither from him nor from any one sufferer of 
the whole ghastly number, did I hear a complaint. Of 
thankfulness for present solicitude and care, I heard 
much ; of complaint, not a word. 
I think I could have recognised in the dismalest skele- 



HARD TO rULL THKOUGH. 115 

ton there, the ghost of a soldier. Something of the 
old air was still latent in the palest shadow of life I 
talked to. One emaciated creature, in the strictest lite- 
rality worn to the bone, lay stretched on his back, looking 
so like death that I asked one of the doctors if he were 
not dying, or dead ? A few kind words from the doctor, 
in his ear, and he opened his eyes, and smiled — looked, 
in a moment, as if he would have made a salute, if he 
could. " We shall pull him through, please God," said 
the Doctor. " Plase God, surr, and thankye," said the 
patient. " You are much better to-day ; are you not?" 
said the Doctor. " Plase God, surr ; 'tis the slape I want, 
surr ; 'tis my breathin' makes the nights so long." " Pie 
is a careful fellow this, you must know," said the Doctor, 
cheerfully ; " it was raining hard when they put him in 
the open cart to bring him here, and he had the presence 
of mind to ask to have a sovereign taken out of his 
pocket that he had there, and a cab engaged. Probably 
it saved his life." The patient rattled out the skeleton 
of a laugh, and said, proud of the story, " 'Deed, surr 
an open cairt was a comical means o' bringin' a dyin' man 
here, and a clever way to kill him." You might have 
sworn to him for a soldier when he said it. 

One thing had perplexed me very much in going from 
bed to bed. A very significant and cruel thing. I could 
find no young man, but one. He had attracted my notice, 
by having got up and dressed himself in his soldier's 
jacket and trousers, with the intention of sitting by the 
fire ; but he had found himself too weak, and had crept 
back to his bed and laid himself down on the outside of 

i2 



116 THE UXCOMMEKCIAL TKAYELLEK. 

it. I could have pronounced him, alone, to be a young 
man aged by famine and sickness. As we were standing 
by the Irish soldier's bed, I mentioned my perplexity to 
the Doctor. He took a board with an inscription on it 
from the head of the Irishman's bed, and asked me what 
age I supposed that man to be? I had observed him 
with attention while talking to him, and answered, confi- 
dently, " Fifty." The doctor, with a pitying glance at 
the patient, who had dropped into a stupor again, put the 
board back, and said, " Twenty-Four." 

All the arrangements of the wards were excellent. 
They could not have been more humane, sympathising, 
gentle, attentive, or wholesome. The owners of the ship, 
too, had done all they could, liberally. There were bright 
fires in every room, and the convalescent men were sitting 
round them, reading various papers and periodicals. I 
took the liberty of inviting my official friend Pangloss to 
look at those convalescent men, and to tell me whether 
their faces and bearing were or were not, generally, the 
faces and bearing of steady respectable soldiers ? The 
master of the workhouse, overhearing me, said he had 
had a pretty large experience of troops, and that better 
conducted men than these, he had never had to do with. 
They were always (he added) as we saw them. And of 
us ^dsitors (I add) they knew nothing whatever, except 
that we were there. 

It was audacious in me, but I took another liberty with 
Pangloss. Prefacing it with the observation that, of 
course, I knew beforehand that there was not the faintest 
deske, anywhere, to hush up any part of this dreadful 



THE SERGEANT. 117 

business, and that the Inquest was the fairest of all pos- 
sible Inquests, I besought four things of Pangloss. 
Firstly, to observe that the Inquest ivas not held in that 
placey but at some distance off. Secondly, to look round 
upon those helpless spectres in their beds. Thirdly, to 
remember that the witnesses produced from among them 
before that Inquest, could not have been selected because 
they were the men who had the most to tell it, but be- 
cause they happened to be in a state admitting of their 
safe removal. Fourthly, to say whether the coroner and 
Jury could have come there, to those pillows, and taken 
a little evidence ? My official friend declined to commit 
himself to a reply. 

There was a sergeant, reading, in one of the fireside 
groups. As he was a man of a very intelligent counte- 
nance, and as I have a great respect for non-commissioned 
officers as a class, I sat down on the nearest bed, to have 
some talk with him. (It was tlie bed of one of the 
grisliest of the poor skeletons, and he died soon after- 
wards.) 

" I was glad to see, in the evidence of an officer at the 
Inquest, sergeant, that he never saw men behave better 
on board ship than these men." 

" They did behave very well, sir." 

" I was glad to see, too, that every man had a ham- 
mock." 

The sergeant gravely shook his head. " There must 
be some mistake, sir. The men of my own mess had no 
hammocks. There were not hammocks enough on board, 
and the men of the two next messes laid hold of ham- 



118 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

mocks for themselves as soon as they got on boardj and 
squeezed my men out, as I may say." 

'^ Had the squeezed-out men none then ? " 

'' None, sir. As men died, their hammocks were used 
by other men, who wanted hammocks ; but many men 
had none at all." 

'^ Then you don't agree with the evidence on that 
point ? " 

"- Certainly not, sir. A man can't, when he knows to 
the contrary." 

" Did any of the men sell their bedding for drink % " 

'' There is some mistake on that point too, sir. Men 
were imder the impression — ^I knew it for a fact at the 
time — that it was not allowed to take blankets or bedding 
on board, and so men who had things of that sort came 
to sell them pm^posely." 

'^ Did any of the men sell their clothes for drink ? " 

" They did, sir." (I believe there never was a more 
truthful witness than the sergeant. He had no incHna- 
tion to make out a case.) 

" Many ? " 

^^Some, sir" (considering the question). "Soldier- 
like. They had been long marching in the rainy season, 
by bad roads — no roads at all, in short — and when they 
got to Calcutta, men turned to and drank, before taking 
a last look at it. Soldier-like." 

" Do you see any men in this ward, for example, who 
sold clothes for drink at that time ? " 

The sergeant's wan eye, happily just beginning to re- 



SICK DIET. 119 

kindle with health, travelled round the place and came 
back to me. " Certainly, sir." 

" The marching to Calcutta in the rainy season must 
have been severe ? " 

" It was very severe, sir." 

" Yet what with the rest and the sea air, I should have 
thought that the men (even the men who got drunk) 
would have soon begun to recover on board ship?" 

" So they might ; but the bad food told upon them, 
and when we got into a cold latitude, it began to tell 
more, and the men dropped." 

" The sick had a general disinchnation for food, I am 
told. Sergeant?" 

" Have you seen the food, sir?" 

" Some of it." 

'^ Have you seen the state of their mouths, sir?" 

If the sergeant, who was a man of a few orderly words, 
had spoken the amount of this volmne, he could not have 
settled that question better. I believe the sick could as 
soon have eaten the ship, as the ship's provisions. ^ 

I took the additional liberty with my friend Pangloss, 
when I had left the sergeant mth good wishes, of asking 
Pangloss whether he had ever heard of biscuit getting 
drunk and bartering its nutritious qualities for putrefac- 
tion and vermin ; of peas becoming hardened in liquor ; 
of hammocks drinking themselves off the face of the 
earth ; of lime-juice, vegetables, vinegar, cooking accom- 
modation, water supply, and beer, all taking to drinking 
together and going to ruin? "If not (I asked him). 



120 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

what did he say in defence of the officers condemned by 
the Coroner's Jury, who, by signing the General Inspec- 
tion report relative to the ship Great Tasmania chartered 
for these troops, had deliberately asserted all that bad and 
poisonous dunghill refuse, to be good and wholesome 
food ? My official friend rephed that it was a remark- 
able fact, that whereas some officers were only positively 
good, and other officers only comparatively better, those 
particular officers were superlatively the very best of all 
possible officers. 

My hand and my heart fail me, in writing my record of 
this journey. The spectacle of the soldiers in the hos- 
pital-beds of that Liverpool workhouse (a very good 
workhouse, indeed, be it understood), was so shocldng 
and so shameful, that as an Englishman I blush to re- 
member it. It would have been simply unbearable at 
the time, but for the consideration and pity with which 
they were soothed in their sufferings. 

No punishment that our inefficient laws provide, is 
worthy of the name when set against the guilt of this 
transaction. But, if the memory of it die out unavenged, 
and if it do not result in the inexorable dismissal and 
disgrace of those who are responsible for it, their escape 
will be infamous to the Government (no matter of what 
party) that so neglects its duty, and infamous to the 
nation that tamely suffers such intolerable wrong to be 
done in its name. 



BOANERGES BOILER. 121 



IX. 



CITY OF LONDON CHURCHES. 



If the confession that I have often travelled from this 
Covent Garden lodging of mine on Sundays, should give 
offence to those who never travel on Sundays, they will 
be satisfied (I hope) by my adding that the journeys in 
question were made to churches. 

Not that I have any curiosity to hear powerful 
preachers. Time was, when I was dragged by the hair 
of my head, as one may say, to hear too many. On 
summer evenings, when every flower, and tree, and bird, 
might have better addressed my soft young heart, I have 
in my day been caught in the palm of a female hand by 
the crown, have been violently scrubbed from the neck to 
the roots of the hair as a purification for the Temple, and 
have then been carried off highly charged with sapona- 
ceous electricity, to be steamed like a potato in the unven- 
tilated breath of the powerful Boanerges Boiler and his 
congregation, until what sijiall mind I had, was quite 
steamed out of me. In which pitiable plight I have been 
haled out of the place of meeting, at the conclusion of 
the exercises, and catechised respecting Boanerges Boiler, 



122 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

his fifthly, his sixthly, and his seventhly, until I have 
regarded that reverend person in the light of a most 
dismal and oppressive Charade. Time was, when I was 
carried off to platform assemblages at which no human 
child, whether of \^Tath or grace, could possibly keep its 
eyes open, and when I felt the fatal sleep stealing, 
stealing over me, and when I gradually heard the orator 
in possession, spinning and humming like a great top, 
until he rolled, collapsed, and tumbled over, and I dis- 
covered to my burning shame and fear, that as to that 
last stage it was not he, but I. I have sat under 
Boanerges when he has specifically addressed himself to us 
— us, the infants — and at this present writing I hear his 
lumbering jocularity (which never amused us, though we 
basely pretended that it did), and I behold his big round 
face, and I look up the inside of his outstretched coat- 
sleeve as if it were a telescope with the stopper on, and I 
hate him mth an unwholesome hatred for two hom's. 
Through such means did it come to pass that I knew the 
powerful preacher from beginning to end, all over and 
all through, while I was very yoimg, and that I left him 
behind at an early period of hf e. Peace be with him ! 
More peace than he brought to me ! 

Now, I have heard many preachers since that time — 
not powerful; merely Christian, unaffected, and reve- 
rential — and I have had many such preachers on my 
roll of friends. But, it was not to hear these, any more 
than the powerful class, that I made my Sunday jour- 
neys. They were journeys of curiosity to the numerous 
churches in the City of London. It came into my 



A CLOUD OF CHURCHES. 123 

head one day, here had I been cultivating a familiarity 
with all the churches of Rome, and I knew nothing of 
the insides of the old churches of London ! This befel 
on a Sunday morning. I began my expeditions that 
very same day, and they lasted me a year. 

I never wanted to know the names of the churches to 
which I went, and to this hour I am profoundly igno- 
rant in that particular of at least nine-tenths of them. 
Indeed, saving that I know the church of old Gowt:r's 
tomb (he lies in effigy mth his head upon his books) to 
be the church of Saint Saviour's, Southwark; and the 
church of Milton's tomb to be the church of Cripple- 
gate ; and the church on Cornhill with the great golden 
keys to be the chm'ch of Saint Peter ; I doubt if I could 
pass a competitive examination in any of the names. No 
question did I ever ask of living creature concerning 
these churches, and no answer to any antiquarian ques- 
tion on the subject that I ever put to books, shall harass 
the reader's soul. A full half of my pleasure in them 
arose out of their mystery ; mysterious I found them ; 
mysterious they shall remain for me. 

Where shall I begin my round of hidden and forgotten 
old churches in the City of London ? 

It is twenty minutes short of eleven on a Sunday 
morning, when I stroll down one of the many narrow 
hilly streets in the City that tend due south to the 
Thames. It is my first experiment, and I have come to 
the region of Whittington in an omnibus, and we have 
put do\Mi a fierce-eyed spare old woman, whose slate- 
coloured go^vn smells of herbs, and who walked up 



124 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

Aldersgate-street to some chapel where she comforts 
herself with brimstone doctrine, I warrant. We have 
also put down a stouter and sweeter old lady, with a 
pretty large prayer-book in an unfolded pocket-handker- 
chief, who got out at a corner of a court near Stationers' 
Hall, and who I think must go to church there, because 
she is the widow of some deceased Old Company's 
Beadle. The rest of our freight were mere chance 
pleasure-seekers and rural walkers, and went on to the 
Blackwall railway. So many bells are ringing, when I 
stand undecided at a street corner, that every sheep in 
the ecclesiastical fold might be a bell-wether. The 
discordance is fe^ul. My state of indecision is refer- 
able to, and about equally divisible among, four great 
churches, which are all within sight and sound, all 
within the space of a few square yards. As I stand at 
the street corner, I don't see as many as four people at 
once going to church, though I see as many as four 
churches with their steeples clamouring for people. I 
choose my church, and go up the flight of steps to the 
great entrance in the tower. A mouldy tower within, 
and like a neglected washhouse. A rope comes through 
the beamed roof, and a man in the corner pulls it and 
clashes the bell — a whity-brown man, whose clothes were 
once black — a man with flue on him, and cobweb. He 
stares at me, wondering how I come there, and I stare at 
him, wondering how he comes there. Through a screen 
of wood and glass, I peep into the dim church. About 
twenty people are discernible, waiting to begin. Chris- 
tening would seem to have faded out of this church long 



THE DOWGATE FAMILY. 125 

ago, for the font has the dust of desuetude thick upon it, 
and its wooden cover (shaped Hke an old-fashioned 
tureen-cover) looks as if it wouldn't come off, upon 
requirement. I perceive the altar to be rickety, and the 
Commandments damp. Entering after this survey, I 
jostle the clergyman in his canonicals, who is entering 
too from a dark lane behind a pew of state with cur- 
tains, where nobody sits. The pew is ornamented with 
fom' blue wands, once carried by four somebodys, I sup- 
pose, before somebody else, but which there is nobody 
now to hold or receive honour from. I open the door of 
a family pew, and shut myself in ; if I could occupy 
twenty family pews at once, I might have them. The 
clerk, a brisk young man (how does he come here ?), 
glances at me knowingly, as who should say, " You have 
done it now ; you must stop." Organ plays. Organ-loft 
is in a small gallery across the church ; gallery congrega- 
tion, two girls. I wonder within myself what will happen 
when we are required to sing. 

There is a pale heap of books in the comer of my pew, 
and while the organ, which is hoarse and sleepy, plays in 
such fashion that I can hear more of the rusty working 
of the stops than of any music, I look at the books, which 
are mostly bound in faded baize and stuff. They be- 
longed in 1754, to the Dowgate family ; and who were 
they ? Jane Comport must have married Young Dow- 
gate, and come into the family that way ; Young Dow- 
gate was courting Jane Comport when he gave her her 
prayer-book, and recorded the presentation in the fly- 
leaf ; if Jane were fond of Young Dowgate, why did she 



126 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

die and leave the book here ? Perhaps at the rickety 
ahar, and before the damp Commandments, she. Com- 
port, had taken him, Dowgate, in a flush of youthful 
hope and joy, and perhaps it had not turned out in the 
long run as great a success as was expected ? 

The opening of the service recals my wandering 
thoughts. I then find, to my astonishment, that I have 
been, and still am, taking a strong kind of inyisible 
snuff, up my nose, into my eyes, and down my throat. I 
wink, sneeze, and cough. The clerk sneezes ; the clergy- 
man winks ; the unseen organist sneezes and coughs 
(and probably winks) ; all our little party wink, sneeze, 
and cough. The snuff seems to be made of the decay of 
matting, wood, cloth, stone, iron, earth, and something 
else. Is the something else, the decay of dead citizens in 
the vaults below ? As sure as Death it is ! Not only in 
the cold damp February day, do we cough and sneeze 
dead citizens, all through the service, but dead citizens 
have got into the very bellows of the organ, and half 
choked the same. We stamp our feet to warm them, 
and dead citizens arise in heavy clouds. Dead citizens 
stick upon the walls, and lie pulverised on the soimding- 
board over the clergyman's head, and, when a gust of air 
comes, tumble down upon him. 

In this first experience I was so nauseated by too much 
snuff, made of the Dowgate family, the Comport branch, 
and other families and branches, that I gave but little 
heed to our dull manner of ambling through the service ; 
to the brisk clerk's manner of encouraging us to try a 
note or two at psalm time ; to the gallery-congregation's 



ANOTHER CONGREGATION. 127 

manner of enjoying a shrill duet, without a notion of 
time or tune ; to the whity-brown man's manner of 
shutting the minister into the pulpit, and being very par- 
ticular with the lock of the door, as if he were a danger- 
ous animal. But, I tried again next Sunday, and soon 
accustomed myself to the dead citizens when I found that 
I could not possibly get on without them among the City 
churches. 

Another Sunday. 

After being again rung for by conflicting bells, like 
a leg of mutton or a laced hat a hundred years ago, I 
make selection of a church oddly put away in a comer 
among a number of lanes — a smaller church than the 
last, and an ugly : of about the date of Queen Anne. 
As a congregation, we are fourteen strong : not count- 
ing an exhausted charity school in a gallery, which 
has dwindled away to four boys, and tw^o girls. In 
the porch, is a benefaction of loaves of bread, which 
there would seem to be nobody left in the exhausted 
congregation to claim, and which I saw an exhausted 
beadle, long faded out of uniform, eating with his eyes 
for self and family when I passed in. There is also an 
exhausted clerk in a brown wig, and two or three ex- 
hausted doors and windows have been bricked up, and 
the service books are musty, and the pulpit cushions are 
threadbare, and the whole of the church furniture is in 
a very advanced stage of exhaustion. We are three old 
women (habitual), two young lovers (accidental), two 
tradesmen, one with a wife and one alone, an aunt and 
nephew, again two girls (these two girls dressed out for 



128 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

church with everything about them limp that should be 
stiff, and vice versdy are an invariable experience), and 
three sniggering boys. The clergyman is, perhaps, the 
chaplain of a civic company ; he has the moist and vinous 
look, and eke the bulbous boots, of one acquainted with 
'Twenty port, and comet vintages. 

We are so quiet in our dulness that the three snigger- 
ing boys, who have got away into a corner by the altar- 
railing, give us a start, like crackers, whenever they 
laugh. And this reminds me of my own village church 
where, during sermon-time on bright Sundays when the 
birds are very musical indeed, farmers' boys patter out 
over the stone pavement, and the clerk steps out from 
his desk after them, and is distinctly heard in the sum- 
mer repose to pursue and punch them in the churchyard, 
and is seen to return with a meditative countenance, 
making believe that nothing of the sort has happened. 
The aunt and nephew in this City church are much dis- 
turbed by the sniggering boys. The nephew is himself a 
boy, and the sniggerers tempt him to secular thoughts of 
marbles and string, by secretly offering such commodities 
to his distant contemplation. This young Saint Anthony 
for a while resists, but presently becomes a backslider, 
and in dumb show defies the sniggerers to '' heave" a 
marble or two in his direction. Herein he is detected 
by the aunt (a rigorous reduced gentlewoman who has 
the charge of offices), and I perceive that worthy relative 
to poke him in the side, with the corrugated hooked 
handle of an ancient umbrella. The nephew revenges 
himself for this, by holding his breath and terrifying his 
kinswoman with the dread belief that he has made up 



BOYS AT CHURCH. 129 

his mind to burst. Eegarclless of whispers and shakes, 
he swells and becomes discoloured, and yet again swells 
and becomes discoloured, until the aunt can bear it no 
longer, but leads him out, with no visible neck, and with 
his eyes going before him like a prawn's. This causes 
the sniggerers to regard flight as an eligible move, and I 
know which of them will go out first, because of the 
over-devout attention that he suddenly concentrates on 
the clergyman. In a little while, this hypocrite, with an 
elaborate demonstration of hushing his footsteps, and 
with a face generally expressive of having until now for- 
gotten a religious appointment elsewhere, is gone. Num- 
ber two gets out in the same way, but rather quicker. 
Number three getting safely to the door, there turns 
reckless, and banging it open, flies forth with a Whoop ! 
that vibrates to the top of the tower above us. 

The clergyman, who is of a prandial presence and a 
muffled voice, may be scant of hearing as well as of 
breath, but he only glances up, as having an idea that 
somebody has said Amen in a wrong place, and continues 
his steady jog-trot, like a farmer's wife going to market. 
He does all he has to do, in the same easy way, and gives 
us a concise sermon, still like the jog-trot of the farmer's 
wife on a level road. Its drowsy cadence soon lulls the 
three old women asleep, and the unmarried tradesman 
sits looking out at window, and the married tradesman 
sits looking at his wife's bonnet, and the lovers sit look- 
ing at one another, so superlatively happy, that I mind 
when I, turned of eighteen, went with my Angelica to a 
City church on account of a shower (by this special coin- 

K 



130 THE UKCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

cidence that it was in Huggin-lane), and when I said to 
my Angehca, " Let the blessed event, Angehca, occur at 
no altar but this!" and when my Angelica consented 
that it should occur at no other — ^which it certainly never 
did, for it never occurred anj^vhere. And O, Angelica, 
what has become of you, this present Sunday morning 
when I can't attend to the sermon ; and, more difficult 
question than that, what has become of Me as I was when 
I sat by your side ! 

But, we receive the signal to make that unanimous dive 
which surely is a little conventional — like the strange 
rustlings and settlings and clearings of throats and noses, 
which are never dispensed with, at certain points of the 
Church service, and are never held to be necessary under 
any other circumstances. In a minute more it is all over, 
and the organ expresses itself to be as glad of it as it can 
be of anything in its rheumatic state, and in another 
minute we are all of us out of the church, and Whity- 
brown has locked it up. Another minute or little more, 
and, in the neighbouring churchyard — not the yard of 
that church, but of another — a churchyard lilie a great 
shabby old mignionette-box, with two trees in it and one 
tomb — I meet Whity-brown, in his private capacity, 
fetching a pint of beer for his dinner from the pubHc- 
house in the corner, where the keys of the rotting fire- 
ladders are kept and were never asked for, and where 
there is a ragged, white-seamed, out-at-elbowed bagatelle- 
board on the first floor. 

In one of these City churches, and only in one, I 
fomid an individual who might have been claimed as ex- 



THE PERSOXAGE AND CHILD. 131 

pressly a City personage. I remember the cliurcli, by the 
feature that the clergyman couldn't get to his own desk 
without going through the clerk's, or couldn't get to the 
pulpit without going through the reading-desk — I forget 
which, and it is no matter — and by the presence of this 
personage among the exceedingly sparse congregation. I 
doubt if we were a dozen, and we had no exhausted 
charity school to help us out. The personage was dressed 
in black of square cut, and was stricken in years, and 
wore a black velvet cap, and cloth shoes. He was of a 
staid, wealthy, and dissatisfied aspect. In his hand, he 
conducted to church a mysterious child : a child of the 
feminine gender. The child had a beaver hat, with a 
stiff di'ab plume that sui^ely never belonged to any bird 
of the air. The child was further attired in a nankeen 
frock and spencer, brown boxing-gloves, and a veil. It 
had a blemish, in the nature of current jelly, on its chin ; 
and was a thirsty child. Insomuch that the personage 
carried in his pocket a green bottle, from w^hich, when 
the first psalm was given out, the child was oj)enly re- 
freshed. At all other times throuo-hout the service it 
was motionless, and stood on the seat of the large pew, 
closely fitted into the corner, like a rain-water pipe. 

The personage never opened his book, and never looked 
at the clergyman. He never sat down either, but stood 
with his arms leaning on the top of the pew, and liis fore- 
head sometimes shaded with his right hand, always look- 
ing at the church door. It was a long church for a 
church of its size, and he was at the upper end, but he 
always looked at the door. That he was an old book- 

k2 



132 THE UXCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

keeper, or an old trader who had kept his own books, and 
that he might be seen at the Bank of England about 
Dividend times, no doubt. That he had lived in the 
City all his life and was disdainful of other localities, no 
doubt. Why he looked at the door, I never absolutely 
proved, but it is my belief that he lived in expectation of 
the time when the citizens would come back to live in the 
City, and its ancient glories would be renewed. He ap- 
peared to expect that this would occur on a Sunday, and 
that the w^anderers would first appear, in the deserted 
chm'ches, penitent and humbled. Hence, he looked at 
the door which they never darkened. Whose child the 
child was, whether the child of a disinherited daughter, 
or some parish orphan whom the personage had adopted, 
there was nothing to lead up to. It never played, or 
skipped, or smiled. Once, the idea occurred to me that 
it was an automaton, and that the personage had made 
it; but following the strange couple out one Sunday, 
I heard the personage say to it, " Thirteen thousand 
pounds;" to which it added in a weak human voice, 
" Seventeen and fourpence." Four Sundays, I followed 
them out, and this is all I ever heard or saw them say. 
One Sunday, I followed them home. They Kved behind 
a pump, and the personage opened their abode with an 
exceeding large key. The one solitary inscription on 
their house related to a fire-plug. The house was partly 
imdermined by a deserted and closed gateway; its 
windows were blind with dirt ; and it stood with its face 
disconsolately turned to a w^all. Five great churches and 
two small ones rang their Sunday bells between this 



DISAPPEARANCE OF PERSONAGE AND CHILD. 133 

house and the church the couple frequented, so they 
must have had some special reason for going a quarter of 
a mile to it. The last time I saw them, was on this wise. 
I had been to explore another church at a distance, and 
happened to pass the church they frequented, at about 
two of the afternoon when that edifice was closed. But, 
a little side-door, which I had never observed before, 
stood open, and disclosed certain cellarous steps. Me- 
thought, " They are airing the vaults to-day," when the 
personage and the child silently arrived at the steps, and 
silently descended. Of course, I came to the conclusion 
that the personage had at last despaired of the looked-f or 
return of the penitent citizens, and that he and the 
child went down to get themselves buried. 

In the course of my pilgrimages I came upon one ob- 
scure church which had broken out in the melodramatic 
style, and was got up with various tawdry decorations, 
much after the manner of the extinct London maypoles. 
These attractions had induced several young priests or 
deacons in black bibs for waistcoats, and several young 
ladies interested in that holy order (the proportion being, 
as I estimated, seventeen young ladies to a deacon), to 
come into the City as a new and odd excitement. It was 
wonderful to see how these young people played out their 
little play in the heart of the City, all among themselves, 
without the deserted City's knowing anything about it. 
It was as if you should take an empty counting-house on 
a Sunday, and act one of the old Mysteries there. They 
had impressed a small school (from what neighbourhood 
I don't know) to assist in the performances, and it was 



134 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

pleasant to notice frantic garlands of inscription on the 
walls, especially addressing those poor innocents in cha- 
racters impossible for them to decipher. There was a 
remarkably agreeable smell of pomatum in this congre- 
gation. 

But, in other cases, rot and mildew and dead citizens 
formed the uppermost scent, while, infused into it in a 
dreamy way not at all displeasing, was the staple cha- 
racter of the neighbourhood. In the churches about 
Mark-lane, for example, there was a dry whiff of wheat ; 
and I accidentally struck an airy sample of barley out of an 
aged hassock in one of them. From Kood-lane to Tower- 
street, and thereabouts, there was often a subtle flavour 
of wine : sometimes, of tea. One church near Mincing- 
lane smelt like a druggist's drawer. Behind the Monu- 
mentj the service had a flavour of damaged oranges, 
which, a little further down towards the river, tempered 
into herrings, and gradually toned into a cosmopoUtan 
blast of fish. In one church, the exact coiuiterpart of 
the chuj'ch in the Rake's Progress where the hero is being 
married to the horrible old lady, there was no speciaHty 
of atmosphere, until the organ shook a perfume of hides 
all over us from some adjacent warehouse. 

Be the scent what it would, however, there was no 
speciality in the people. There were never enough of 
them to represent any calling or neighbourhood. They 
had all gone elsewhere over-night, and the few stragglers 
in the many churches languished there inexpressively. 

Among the uncommercial travels in which I have en- 
gaged, this year of Sunday travel occupies its own place^ 



A RETROSPECT. 135 

apart from all the rest. Whether I think of the church 
where the sails of the oyster-boats in the river almost flapped 
ao^ainst the windows, or of the church where the railroad 
made the bells hum as the train rushed by above the 
iioiy I recal a ciu'ious experience. On summer Sundays, 
in the gentle rain or the bright sunshine — either, deepen- 
ing the idleness of the idle City — I have sat, in that sin- 
gula* silence which belongs to resting-places usually asth*, 
in siores of buildino:s at the heart of the world's metro- 
polls unknowm to far greater numbers of people speak- 
ing tie EngHsh tongue, than the ancient edifices of the 
Etenal City, or the Pyramids of Egypt. The dark 
vesrries and registries into wliich I have peeped, and the 
littk hemmed-in churchyards that have echoed to my 
feet, ^ave left impressions on my memory as distinct and 
quaintis any it has in that way received. In all those 
dusty r^risters that the worms are eating, there is not a 
line but made some hearts leap, or some tears flow, in 
their day. Still and dry now, still and dry ! and the old 
tree at tL window with no room for its branches, has 
seen them U out. So with the tomb of the old Master 
of the old (.ompany, on which it drips. His son restored 
it aiid died, is daughter restored it and died, and then 
he had been imembered lono; enouo;h, and the tree took 
possession of 'm, and his name cracked out. 

There are itr more strikincp indications of the chancres 
of manners and>ustoms that two or three hundred years 
have brought abit, than these deserted Chm'ches. Many 
of them are haisome and costly structures, several of 
them were designl. by Wrex, many of them arose from 



136 



THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 



the ashes of the great fire, others of them outlived the 
plague and the fire too, to die a slow death in these later 
days. No one can be sure of the coming time ; but it is 
not too much to say of it that it has no sign in its out- 
setting tides, of the reflux to these churches of their 
congregations and uses. They remain like the tombs of 
the old citizens who lie beneath them and around thrm, 
Monuments of another age. They are worth a Sun/ay- 
exploration now and then, for they yet echo, not uAar- 
moniously, to the time when the city of London reall^ was 
London ; when the 'Prentices and Trained Bandswere 
of •mark in the state; when even the Lord Mayoihim- 
jself was a Reahty — not a Fiction conventionally be-}uffed 
on one day in the year by illustrious friends, who nr less 
conventionally laugh at him on the remaining thre/ hun- 
dred and sixty-four days. 



PEDESTRIANISM. 137 



X. 



SHY NEIGHBOURHOODS. 



So much of my travelling is done on foot, that if I 
cherished betting propensities, I should probably be found 
registered in sporting newspapers, under some such title 
as the Elastic Novice, challenging all eleven-stone man- 
kind to competition in walking. My last special feat was 
turning out of bed at two, after a hard day, pedestrian 
and otherwise, and walking thirty miles into the country 
to breakfast. The road was so lonely in the night, that 
I fell asleep to the monotonous sound of my own feet, 
doing their regular four miles an hour. Mile after mile 
I walked, without the slightest sense of exertion, dozing 
heavily and dreaming constantly. It was only when I 
made a stumble like a drunken man, or struck out into 
the road to avoid a horseman close upon me on the path 
— ^who had no existence — that I came to myself and 
looked about. The day broke mistily (it was autumn 
time), and I could not disembarrass myself of the idea 
that I had to climb those heights and banks of cloud, and 
that there was an Alpine Convent somewhere behind the 



138 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

suii, where I was going to breakfast. This sleepy notion 
was so much stronger than such substantial objects as 
"villages and haystacks, that, after the sun was up and 
bright, and when I was sufficiently awake to have a sense 
of pleasure in the prospect, I still occasionally caught 
myself looking about for wooden arms to point the right 
track up the mountain, and wondering there was no snow 
yet. It is a curiosity of broken sleep, that I made im- 
mense quantities of verses on that pedestrian occasion (of 
course I never make any when I am in my right senses), 
and that I spoke a certain language once pretty familiar 
to me, but which I have nearly forgotten from disuse, 
with fluency. Of both these phenomena I have such 
frequent experience in the state between sleeping and 
waking, that I sometimes argue with myself that I know 
I cannot be awake, for, if I were, I should not be half so 
ready. The readiness is not imaginary, because I often 
recal long strings of the verses, and many turns of the 
fluent speech, after I am broad awake. 

My walldng is of two kinds : one, straight on end to a 
definite goal at a round pace ; one, objectless, loitering, 
and purely vagabond. In the latter state, no gipsy on 
earth is a greater vagabond than myself ; it is so natural 
to me and strong with me, that I think I must be the 
descendant, at no great distance, of some irreclaimable 
tramp. 

One of the pleasantest things I have lately met with, 
in a vagabond course of shy metropolitan neighbourhoods 
and small shops, is the fancy of a humble artist as exem- 
plified in two portraits representing Mr. Thomas Sayers, 



BIRDS AND BAD COMPANY. 139 

of Great Britain, and Mr. John Heenan, of the United 
States of America. These illustrious men are highly 
coloured, in fighting trim, and fighting attitude. To 
suggest the pastoral and meditative nature of their peace- 
ful calHng, ]\Ir. Heenan is represented on emerald sward, 
with primroses and other modest flowers springing up 
under the heels of his half-boots ; while Mr. Sayers is 
impelled to the administration of his favourite blow, the 
Auctioneer, by the silent eloquence of a village church. 
The humble homes of England, with their domestic 
vutues and honeysuclde porches, m^ge both heroes to go 
in and win ; and the lark and other singing-birds are ob- 
servable in the upper air, ecstatically carolling their 
thanks to Heaven for a fight. On the w^hole, the associa- 
tions entwined with the pugilistic art by this artist are 
much in the manner of Izaak Walton. 

But, it is with the lower animals of back streets and 
by-ways that my present purpose rests. For human notes 
we may return to such neighbourhoods when leisure and 
opportunity serve. 

Notliing in shy neighbourhoods perplexes my mind 
more, than the bad company birds keep. Foreign birds 
often get into good society, but British birds are inse- 
parable from low associates. There is a whole street of 
them in Saint Giles's ; and I always find them in poor and 
immoral neighbom^hoods, convenient to the public-house 
and the pawnbroker's. They seem to lead people into 
drinking, and even the man who makes their cages usually 
gets into a chronic state of black eye. Wliy is this? 
Also, they will do things for people in short-sldrted 



140 THE UNCOMMEKCIAL TRAVELLER. 

velveteen coats with bone buttons, or in sleeved waist- 
coats and fur caps, which they cannot be persuaded by 
the respectable orders of society to undertake. In a dirty 
court in Spitalfields, once, I found a goldfinch drawing 
his OAvn water, and drawing as much of it as if he were 
in a consuming fever. That goldfinch lived at a bird- 
shop, and offered, in writing, to barter himself against 
old clothes, empty bottles, or even kitchen-stuff. Surely 
a low thing and a depraved taste in any finch ! I bought 
that goldfinch for money. He was sent home, and hung 
upon a nail over against my table. He lived outside a 
counterfeit dwelhng-house, supposed (as I argued) to be 
a dyer's ; otherwise it would have been impossible to ac- 
count for his perch sticking out of the garret window. 
From the time of his appearance in my room, either he 
left off being thirsty — which was not in the bond — or he 
could not make up his mind to hear his little bucket 
drop back into his well v/hen he let it go : a shock which 
in the best of times had made him tremble. He drew no 
water but by stealth and under the cloak of night. After 
an interval of futile and at length hopeless expectation, 
the merchant who had educated him was appealed to. 
The merchant was a bow-legged character, with a flat 
and cushiony nose, like the last new strawberry. He 
wore a fur cap, and shorts, and was of the velveteen race, 
velveteeny. He sent word that he would " look round." 
He looked round, appeared in the doorway of the room, 
and slightly cocked up his evil eye at the goldfinch. In- 
stantly a raging thirst beset that bird ; when it was ap- 
peased, he still drew several unnecessary buckets of water ; 



DONKEYS. 141 

and finally, leaped about his perch and sharpened his 
bill, as if he had been to the nearest wine-vaults and got 
drunk. 

Donkeys again. I know shy neighbourhoods where 
the Donkey goes in at the street door, and appears to live 
up-stairs, for I have examined the badv-yard from over 
the palings, and have been unable to make him out. 
GentiHty, nobility. Royalty, would appeal to that donkey 
in vain to do what he does for a costermonger. Feed 
him with oats at the highest price, put an infant prince 
and princess in a pair of panniers on his back, adjust his 
dehcate trappings to a nicety, take him to the softest 
slopes at Windsor, and try what pace you can get out of 
him. Then, starv^e him, harness him anyhow to a tinick 
with a flat tray on it, and see him bowl from White- 
chapel to Bayswater. There appears to be no particular 
private understanding between birds and donkeys, in a 
state of nature ; but in the shy neighbourhood state, you 
shall see them always in the same hands, and always de- 
veloping their very best energies for the very worst com- 
pany. I have known a donkey — by sight ; we were not 
on speaking terms — who lived over on the Surrey side of 
London-bridge, among the fastnesses of Jacob's Island and 
Dockhead. It was the habit of that animal, when his ser- 
vices were not in immediate requisition, to go out alone, 
idhng. I have met him, a mile from his place of residence, 
loitering about the streets ; and the expression of his 
countenance at such times was most deoraded. He was 
attached to the establishment of an elderly lady who sold 
periwinkles, and he used to stand on Saturday nights 



142 THE UNC031MERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

with a cartful of those dehcacies outside a gin-shop, 
pricking up his ears Avhen a customer came to the cart, 
and too evidently deriving satisfaction from the know- 
ledge that they got bad measure. His mistress was 
sometimes overtaken by inebriety. The last time I ever 
saw him (about five years ago) he was in circumstances 
of difficulty, caused by this failing. Having been left 
alone with the cart of periwinkles, and forgotten, he went 
off idling. He prowled among his usual low haunts for 
some time, gratif jdng his depraved tastes, until, not taking 
the cart into his calculations, he endeavoured to turn up 
a narrow alley, and became greatly involved. He was 
taken into custody by the police, and, the Green Yard of 
^e district being near at hand, was backed into that 
place of durance. At that crisis, I encountered him ; 
the stubborn sense he evinced of being — not to compro- 
mise the expression — a blackguard, I never saw exceeded 
in the. human subject. A flaring candle in a paper 
shade, stuck in among his periwinkles, showed him, with 
his ragged harness broken and his cart extensively shat- 
tered, twitching his mouth and shaking his hanging head, 
a picture of disgrace and obduracy. I have seen boys 
being taken to station-houses, who were as like him as his 
own brother. 

The dogs of shy neighbourhoods, I observe to avoid 
play, and to be conscious of poverty. They avoid work 
too, if they can, of course ; that is in the nature of all 
animals. I have the pleasure to know a dog in a back 
street in the neighbourhood of Walworth, who has greatly 
distinguished himself in the minor drama, and who takes 



A DRA^IATIC DOG. 143 

his portrait w-ith him when he makes an engagement, for 
the illustration of the play-bill. His portrait (which is 
not at all like him) represents him in the act of dragging 
to the earth a recreant Indian, who is supposed to have 
tomahawked, or essayed to tomahawk, a British officer. 
The design is pure poetrj^, for there is no such Indian in 
the piece, and no such incident. He is a dog of the 
Newfoundland breed, for whose honesty I would be bail 
to any amount ; but whose intellectual qualities in asso- 
ciation with dramatic fiction, I cannot rate high. Indeed, 
he is too honest for the profession he has entered. Being 
at a town in Yorkshire last summer, and seeing him posted 
in the bill of the night, I attended the performance. His 
first scene was eminently successful ; but, as it occupied 
a second in its representation (and five hues in the bill), 
it scarcely afforded ground for a cool and deliberate 
judgment of his powers. He had merely to bark, run 
on, and jump through an inn window after a comic 
fugitive. The next scene of importance to the fable was a 
little marred in its interest by his over-anxiety : forasmuch 
as while his master (a belated soldier in a den of robbers 
on a tempestuous night) was feelingly lamenting the 
absence of his faithful dog, and laying great stress on 
the fact that he was thirty leagues away, the faithful dog 
was barking furiously in the prompter's box, and clearly 
choking himself against his collar. But it was in his 
greatest scene of all, that his honesty got the better of 
him. He had to enter a dense and trackless forest, on 
the trail of the murderer, and there to fly at the mur- 
derer when he found him resting at the foot of a tree, 



144 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TKAVELLEB. 

with his \^ctim bound ready for slaughter. It was a hot 
night, and he came into the forest from an altogether 
unexpected direction, in the sweetest temper, at a very- 
deliberate trot, not in the least excited; trotted to the 
foot-lights vdth his tongue out; and there sat down, 
panting, and amiably surveying the audience, ^vith his 
tail beating on the boards, hke a Dutch clock. Mean- 
while the murderer, impatient to receive his doom, was 
audibly caUing to him " Co-o-OME here!" while the 
victim, struggling with his bonds, assailed him with the 
most injurious expressions. It happened through these 
means, that when he was in course of time persuaded to 
trot up and rend the murderer limb from limb, he made 
it (for dramatic purposes) a Httle too obvious that he 
worked out that awful retribution by licking butter off 
his blood-stained hands. 

In a shy street, behind Long-acre, two honest dogs Uve, 
who perfoim in Punch's shows. I may venture to say 
that I am on terms of intimacy with both, and that I 
never saw either guilty of the falsehood of failing 
to look doAvn at the man inside the show, during the 
whole performance. The difficulty other dogs have in 
satisfying their minds about these dogs, appears to be 
never overcome by time. The same dogs must en- 
' counter them over and over again, as they trudge along 
in their off-minutes behind the legs of the show and 
beside the dnmi ; but all dogs seem to suspect their frills 
and jackets, and to sniff at them as if they thought those 
articles of personal adornment, an eruption — a something 
in the nature of mange, perhaps. From this Covent- 



A COUNTHY DOG. 145 

garden window of mine I noticed a country dog, only 
the other day, who had come up to Covent-garden 
Market under a cart, and 4iad broken his cord, an end 
of which he still trailed along with him. He loitered 
about the comers of the four streets commanded by my 
window ; and bad London dogs came up, and told him 
lies that he didn't believe ; and worse London dogs came 
up, and made proposals to him to go and steal in the 
market, which his principles rejected ; and the ways of 
the town confused him, and he crept aside and lay down 
in a doonvay. He had scarcely got a wink of sleep, 
when up comes Punch with Toby. He was darting to 
Toby for consolation and advice, when he saw the frill, 
and stopped in the middle of the street, appalled. The 
show was pitched, Toby retired behind the di'apery, the 
audience formed, the drum and pipes struck up. My 
country dog remained immovable, intently staring at 
these strange appearances, imtil Toby opened the drama 
by appearing on his ledge, and to him entered Punch, 
who put a tobacco-pipe into Toby's mouth. At this spec- 
tacle, the country dog threw up his head, gave one terrible 
howl, and fled due west. 

We talk of men keeping dogs, but we might often talk 
more expressively of dogs keeping men. I know a bull- 
dog in a shy corner of Hammersmith who keeps a man. 
He keeps him up a yard, and makes him go to pubhc- 
houses and lay wagers on him, and obHges him to lean 
against posts and look at him, and forces him to neglect 
work for him, and keeps him under rigid coercion. I 
once knew a fancy terrier who kept a gentleman — a gen- 

L 



146 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

tleman who had been brought up at Oxford, too. The 
dog kept the gentleman entirely for his glorification^ and 
the gentleman never talked about anything but the 
terrier. This, however, was not in a shy neighbourhood, 
and is a digression consequently. 

There are a great many dogs in shy neighbourhoods, 
who keep boys. I have my eye on a mongrel in Somers- 
town who keeps three boys. He feigns that he can 
bring down sparrows, and imburrow rats (he can do 
neither), and he takes the boys out on sporting pretences 
into all sorts of suburban fields. He has likewise made 
them believe that he possesses some mysterious know- 
ledge of the art of fishing, and they consider themselves 
incompletely equipped for the Hampstead ponds, with a 
pickle- jar and a wide-mouthed bottle, unless he is with 
them and barking tremendously. There is a dog re- 
siding in the Borough of Southwark who keeps a bHnd 
man. He may be seen, most days, in Oxford-street, 
haUng the blind man away on expeditions wholly im- 
contemplated by, and unintelhgible to, the man : wholly 
of the dog's conception and execution. Contrariwise, 
when the man has projects, the dog will sit down in a 
crowded thoroughfare and meditate. I saw him yester- 
day, wearing the money-tray like an easy collar, instead 
of offering it to the pubhc, taking the man against his 
will, on the invitation of a disreputable cur, apparently 
to visit a dog at Harrow — he was so intent on that direc- 
tion. The north wall of Burlington House Gardens, 
between the Arcade and the Albany, offers a shy spot 
for appointments among bhnd men at about two or three 



DOGS AVHO KEEP MEN. 147 

o'clock in the afternoon. They sit (very uncomfortably) 
on a sloping stone there, and compare notes. Their 
dogs may always be observed at the same time, openly 
disparaging the men they keep, to one another, and 
settUng where they shall respectively take their men when 
they begin to move again. At a small butcher's, in a shy 
neighbourhood (there is no reason for suppressing the 
name ; it is by Notting-hill, and gives upon the district 
called the Potteries), I know a shaggy black and white 
dog who keeps a drover. He is a dog of an easy dispo- 
sition, and too frequently allows this drover to get drunk. 
On these occasions, it is the dog's custom to sit outside 
the public-house, keeping his eye on a few sheep, and 
thinking. I have seen him with six sheep, plainly cast- 
ing up in his mind how many he began with when he 
left the market, and at what places he has left the rest. 
I have seen him perplexed by not being able to account 
to himself for certain particular sheep. A light has 
gradually broken on him, he has remembered at what 
butcher's he left them, and in a burst of grave satisfaction 
has caught a fly off his nose, and shown himself much 
relieved. If I could at any time have doubted the fact 
that it was he who kept the drover, and not the drover 
who kept him, it would have been abundantly proved by 
his way of taking undivided charge of the six sheep, when 
the drover came out besmeared with red ochre and beer, 
and gave him wrong directions, which he calmly disre- 
garded. He has taken the sheep entirely into his own 
hands, has merely remarked with respectful firmness, 
" That instruction would place them under an omnibus ; 

l2 



148 THE U^X0M3IErtCIAL TllAVELLER. 

you had better confine your attention to yourself — ^you 
will want it all ;" and has driven his charge away, with 
an intelligence of ears and tail, and a knowledge of busi- 
ness, that has left his lout of a man very, very far 
behind. 

As the dogs of shy neighbourhoods usually betray a 
slinking consciousness of being in poor circumstances — 
for the most part manifested in an aspect of anxiety, an 
awkwardness in their play, and a misgiving that some- 
body is going to harness them to something, to pick up a 
living — so the cats of shy neighbourhoods exhibit a strong 
tendency to relapse into barbarism. Not only are they 
made selfishly ferocious by ruminating on the surplus 
population around them, and on the densely crowded 
state of all the avenues to cat's meat ; not only is there a 
moral and politico-economical haggardness in them, trace- 
able to these reflections ; but they evince a physical de- 
terioration. Their linen is not clean, and is wretchedly 
got up ; theii' black turns rusty, like old mourning ; they 
wear very indifferent fur; and take to the shabbiest 
cotton velvet, instead of silk velvet. I am on terms of 
recoomition mth several small streets of cats, about the 
Obelisk in Saint George's Fields, and also in the vicinity 
of Clerkenwell-green, and also in the back settlements of 
Drury-lane. In appearance, they are very Hke the wo- 
men among whom they live. They seem to turn out of 
their unwholesome beds into the street, without any pre- 
paration. They leave their young families to stagger 
about the gutters, unassisted, while they frouzily quarrel 
and swear and scratch and spit, at street comers. In 



STREET FOWLS. 149 

particular, I remark that when they are about to increase 
their famihes (an event of frequent recurrence) the re- 
semblance is strongly expressed in a certain dusty dowdi- 
ness, down-at-heel self -neglect, and general giving up of 
things. I cannot honestly report that I have ever seen a 
fehne matron of this class washing her face when in an 
interesting condition. 

Not to prolong these notes of uncommercial travel 
among the lower animals of shy neighbourhoods, by 
dwelling at length upon the exasperated moodiness of the 
tom-cats, and their resemblance in many respects to a 
man and a brother, I will come to a close with a word on 
the fowls of the same localities. 

That anything born of an egg and invested with wings, 
should have got to the pass that it hops contentedly 
down a ladder into a cellar, and calls that going home, is 
a circumstance so amazing as to leave one nothing more 
in this connexion to wonder at. Otherwise I might 
wonder at the completeness with which these fowls have 
become separated from all the birds of the air — have 
taken to grovelHng in bricks and mortar and mud — have 
forgotten all about live trees, and make roosting-places of 
shop-boards, barrows, oyster-tubs, bulk-heads, and door- 
scrapers. I wonder at nothing concerning them, and 
take them as they are. I accept as products of Nature 
and things of course, a reduced Bantam family of my 
acquaintance in the Hackney-road, who are incessantly 
at the pawnbroker's. I cannot say that they enjoy them- 
selves, for they are of a melancholy temperament ; but 
what enjoyment they are capable of, they derive from 



150 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

crowding together in the pawnbroker's side-entry. Here, 
they are always to be found in a feeble flutter, as if they 
were newly come do^vn in the w^orld, and were afraid of 
being identified. I know a low fellow, originally of a 
good family from Dorking, who takes his whole establish- 
ment of wives, in smgle file, in at the door of the Jug 
Department of a disorderly tavern near the Haymarket, 
manoeuvres them among the company^s legs, emerges 
with them at the Bottle Entrance, and so passes his life : 
seldom, in the season, going to bed before two in the 
morning. Over Waterloo-bridge, there is a shabby old 
speckled couple (they belong to the wooden French-bed- 
stead, washing-stand, and towel-horse-making trade), w^ho 
are always trying to get in at the door of a chapel. 
Whether the old lady, under a delusion reminding one 
of Mrs. Southcott, has an idea of entrusting an egg to 
that particular denomination, or merely -understands that 
she has no business in the building and is consequently 
frantic to enter it, I cannot determine ; but she is con- 
stantly endeavouring to undermine the principal door : 
while her partner, who is infirm upon his legs, walks up 
and down, encouraging her and defying the Universe. 
But, the family I have been best acquainted with, since 
the removal from this trjdng sphere of a Chinese circle 
at Brentford, reside in the densest part of Bethnal-green. 
Their abstraction from the objects among which they 
live, or rather their conviction that those objects have all 
come into existence in express subservience to fowls, has 
so enchanted me, that I have made them the subject of 
many journeys at divers hours. After careful observa- 



BETHNAL-GREEN BREED OF POULTRY. 151 

tion of the two lords and the ten ladies of whom this 
family consists, I have come to the conclusion that their 
opinions are represented by the leading lord and leading 
lady : the latter, as I judge, an aged personage, afflicted 
with a paucity of feather and visibility of quill, that gives 
her the appearance of a bundle of office pens. When a 
railway goods-van that would crush an elephant comes 
round the corner, tearing over these fowls, they emerge 
unhanned from under the horses, perfectly satisfied that 
the whole rush was a passing property in the air, which 
may have left something to eat behind it. They look 
upon old shoes, wrecks of kettles and saucepans, and 
fragments of bonnets, as a kind of meteoric discharge, 
for fowls to peck at. Peg-tops and hoops they account, I 
thuik, as a sort of hail ; shuttlecocks, as rain, or dew. 
Gashght comes quite as natural to them as any other 
light; and I have more than a suspicion that, in the 
minds of the two lords, the early public-house at the 
corner has superseded the sun. I have established it as 
a certain fact, that they always begin to crow when the 
pubhc-house shutters begin to be taken down, and that 
they salute the potboy, the instant he appears to perform 
that duty, as if he were Phoebus in person. 



152 THE UNCOMMEECIAL TRAVELLER. 



XL 



TRAMPS, 



The chance use of the word ^^ Tramp" in my last 
paper, brought that numerous fraternity so vividly before 
my mind's eye, that I had no sooner laid down my pen 
than a compulsion was upon me to take it up again, and 
make notes of the Tramps whom I perceived on all the 
summer roads in all directions. 

Whenever a tramp sits down to rest by the wayside, 
he sits with his legs in a dry ditch ; and whenever he 
goes to sleep (which is very often indeed), he goes to 
sleep on his back. Yonder, by the high road, glaring 
white in the bright simshine, lies, on the dusty bit of turf 
under the bramble-bush that fences the coppice from the 
highway, the tramp of the order savage, fast asleep. He 
lies on the broad of his back, with his face turned up to 
the sky, and one of his ragged arms loosely thrown across 
his face. His bundle (what can be the contents of that 
mysterious bundle, to make it worth his while to carry it 
about ?) is thrown down beside him, and the waking 
woman with him sits with her legs in the ditch, and her 



SURLY TRAJMP. 153 

back to the road. She wears her bonnet rakishly perched 
on the front of her head, to shade her face from the sun 
in walking, and she ties her skirts round her in conven- 
tionally tight tramp-fashion with a sort of apron. You 
can seldom catch sight of her, resting thus, without seeing 
her in a despondently defiant manner doing something to 
her hair or her bonnet, and glancing at you between her 
fingers. She does not often go to sleep herself in the 
daytime, but will sit for any length of time beside the 
man. And his slumberous propensities would not seem 
to be referable to the fatigue of carrying the bimdle, for 
she carries it much oftener and further than he. "V^Hien 
they are afoot, you will mostly find him slouching on 
ahead, in a gruff temper, while she lags heavily behind 
with the burden. He is given to personally correcting her, 
too — which phase of his character develops itself of tenest, 
on benches outside alehouse doors — and she appears to be- 
come strongly attached to him for these reasons ; it may 
usually be noticed that when the poor creature has a 
bruised face, she is the most affectionate. He has no 
occupation whatever, this order of tramp, and has no 
object whatever in going anywhere. He will sometimes 
call himself a brickmaker, or a sawyer, but only when he 
takes an imaginative flight. He generally represents 
himself, in a vague way, as looking out for a job of work ; 
but he never did work, he never does, and he never never 
wiU. It is a favourite fiction with him, however (as if 
he were the most industrious character on earth), that 
you never work ; and as he goes past your garden and 
sees you looking at your flowers, you will overhear him 



154 THE UXCOMMEKCIAL TPwAVELLER. 

growl, with a strong sense of contrast, " You are a lucky 
hidle devil, you are !" 

The slinking tramp is of the same hopeless order^ and 
has the same injured conviction on him that you were 
born to whatever you possess, and never did anything to 
get it ; but he is of a less audacious disposition. He ^yill 
stop before your gate, and say to his female companion 
with an air of constitutional humihty and propitiation — 
to edify any one who may be Avithin hearing beliind a 
blind or a bush — " This is a sweet spot, ain't it ? A 
lovelly spot ! And I wonder if they'd give- two poor foot- 
sore travellers like me and you, a drop of fresh water out 
of such a pretty gen-teel crib ? We'd take it wery koind 
on 'em, wouldn't us ? Wery koind, upon my word, us 
would !" He has a quick sense of a dog in the vicinity, 
and mil extend his modestly-injured propitiation to the 
dog chained up in your yard : remarking, as he sluiks at 
the yard gate, " Ah ! You are a f oine breed o' dog, too, 
and you ain't kep for nothink ! I'd take it wery koind 
o' your master if he'd elp a traveller and his woife as 
envies no gentlefolk their good f ortun, wi' a bit o' your 
broken wittles. He'd never know the want of it, nor more 
would you. Don't bark like that, at poor persons as never 
done you no arm ; the poor is do^^n-trodden and broke 
enough mthout that ; O don't !" He generally heaves 
a prodigious sigh in moving away, and always looks up 
the lane and down the lane, and up the road and down 
the road, before going on. 

Both of these orders of tramp are of a very robust 
habit; let the hard-working labourer at whose cottage- 



X 



WELL-SPOKEN YOUNG-MAN TRAMP. 155 

door they prowl and beg, have the ague never so badly, 
these tramps are siu^e to be in good health. 

There is another kind of tramp, whom you encounter 
this bright simimer day — say, on a road with the sea- 
breeze making its dust hvely, and sails of ships in the 
blue distance beyond the slope of Down. As you walk 
enjoyingly on, you descry in the perspective at the 
bottom of a steep hill up which your way lies, a figure 
that appears to be sitting airily on a gate, whistling in a 
cheerful and disengaged manner. As you approach 
nearer to it, you observe the figure to slide down from 
the gate, to desist from whistling, to uncock its hat, to 
become tender of foot, to depress its head and elevate its 
shoulders, and to present all the characteristics of pro- 
found despondency. Arriving at the bottom of the 
hill and coming close to the figure, you obserr^e it 
to be the figure of a shabby young man. He is 
moving painfully forward, in the direction in which 
you are going, and his mind is so preoccupied with 
his misfortunes that he is not aware of your ap- 
proach until you are close upon him at the hill-foot. 
When he is aware of you, you discover him to be a 
remarkably well-behaved young man, and a remarkably 
well-spoken young man. You know him to be well- 
behaved, by his respectful manner of touching his hat ; 
you know him to be well-spoken, by his smooth manner 
of expressing himself. He says in a flowing confidential 
voice, and without punctuation, " I ask your pardon sir 
but if you would excuse the liberty of being so addressed 
upon the public Iway by one who is almost reduced to 
rags though it as not always been so and by no fault of 



156 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

his own but through ill elth in his family and many 
unmerited sufferings it would be a great obligation sir to 
know the time." You give the well-spoken young man, 
the time. The well-spoken young man, keeping well up 
with you, resumes : " I am aware sir that it is a liberty 
to intrude a further question on a gentleman walking for 
his entertainment but might I make so bold as ask the 
favour of the way to Dover sir and about the distance?" 
You inform the well-spoken young man that the way to 
Dover is straight on, and the distance some eighteen miles. 
The well-spoken young man becomes greatly agitated. "In 
the condition to which I am reduced," says he, " I could 
not ope to reach Dover before dark even if my shoes 
were in a state to take me there or my feet were in a 
state to old out over the flinty road and were not on the 
bare ground of which any gentleman has the means to 
satisfy himself by looking Sir may I take the Hberty of 
speaking to you?" As the well-spoken young man keeps 
so well up with you that you can't prevent his taking the 
liberty of speaking to you, he goes on, with fluency: 
" Sir it is not begging that is my intention for I was 
brought up by the best of mothers and begging is not my 
trade I should not know sir how to follow it as a trade 
if such were my shameful wishes for the best of mothers 
long taught otherwise and in the best of omes though 
now reduced to take the present liberty on the Iway Sir 
my business was the law-stationering and I was fa^ 
vourably known to the SoKcitor-General the Attorney- 
General the majority of the Judges and the ole of the 
legal profession but through ill elth in my family and the 



JOHN ANDERSON TRAMP. 157 

treachery of a friend for whom I became security and he 
no other than my own A\dfe's brother the brother of my 
own ^vife I was cast forth with my tender partner and 
three young children not to beg for I will sooner die of 
deprivation but to make my way to the seaport town of 
Dover where I have a relative i in respect not only that 
will assist me but that would trust me with untold gold 
Sir in appier times and hare this calamity fell upon me 
I made for my amusement when I little thought that I 
should ever need it excepting for my air this" — here the 
well-spoken yomig man puts his hand into his breast — 
" this comb ! Sir I implore you in the name of charity to 
pm'chase a tortoiseshell comb which is a genuine article 
at any price that your humanity may put upon it and may 
the blessings of a ouseless family awaiting with beating arts 
the return of a husband and a father from Dover upon 
the cold stone seats of London-bridge ever attend you 
Sir may I take the liberty of speaking to you I implore 
you to buy this comb !" By this time, being a reasonably 
good walker, you wdll have been too much for the well- 
spoken young man, who will stop short and express his 
disgust and his want of breath, in a long expectoration, 
as you leave him behind. 

Towards the end of the same walk, on the same bright 
summer day, at the comer of the next little town or 
village, you may find another kind of tramp, embodied in 
the persons of a most exemplary couple whose only im- 
providence appears to have been, that they spent the last 
of their little All on soap. They are a man and woman, 
spotless to behold — John Anderson, with the frost on his 



158 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

short smock-frock instead of his " pow," attended by Mrs. 
Anderson. John is over-ostentatious of the frost upon 
his raiment, and wears a curious and, you would say, 
an almost unnecessary demonstration of girdle of white 
linen wound about his waist — a girdle, snowy as Mrs. 
Anderson's apron. This cleanliness was the expiring 
effort of the respectable couple, and nothing then re- 
mained to Mr. Anderson but to get chalked upon his 
spade in snow-white copy-book characters, hungry ! and 
to sit down here. Yes ; one thing more remained to Mr. 
Anderson — ^his character; Monarchs could not deprive 
him of his hard-earned character. Accordingly, as you 
come up with this spectacle of virtue in distress, Mrs. 
Anderson rises, and with a decent curtsey presents for 
your consideration a certificate from a Doctor of Divinity, 
the reverend the Vicar of Upper Dodgington, who informs 
his Christian friends and all whom it may concern that the 
bearers, John Anderson and lawful wife, are persons to 
whom you cannot be too hberal. This benevolent pastor 
omitted no work of his hands to fit the good couple out, 
for with half an eye you can recognise his autograph on 
the spade. 

Another class of tramp is a man, the most valuable 
part of whose stock-in-trade is a highly perplexed de- 
meanour. He is got up like a countryman, and you will 
often come upon the poor fellow, while he is endeavour- 
ing to decipher the inscription on a milestone — quite a 
fruitless endeavoxu-, for he cannot read. He asks your 
pardon, he truly does (he is very slow of speech, this 
tramp, and he looks in a bewildered way all round the 



SQUIRE POUNCERBY'S TRAMP. 159 

prospect while he talks to you), but all of us shold do as 
we wold be done by, and he'll take it kind, if you'll put 
a power man in the right road fur to jine his eldest son 
as has broke his leg bad in the masoning, and is in this 
heere Orspit'l as is wrote down by Squire Pouncerby's 
own hand as wold not tell a He fur no man. He then 
produces from under his dark frock (being always very 
slow and perplexed) a neat but worn old leathern purse, 
from which he takes a scrap of paper. On this scrap of 
paper is Avritten, by Squire Pouncerby, of The Grove, 
"Please to direct the Bearer, a poor but very worthy 
man, to the Sussex County Hospital, near Brighton" — a 
matter of some difficulty at the moment, seeing that the 
request comes suddenly upon you in the depths of Hert- 
fordshire. The more you endeavour to indicate w^here 
Brighton is — ^when you have with the greatest difficulty 
remembered — the less the devoted father can be made to 
comprehend, and the more obtusely he stares at the pro- 
spect ; whereby, being reduced to extremity, you recom- 
mend the faithful parent to begin by going to St. Albans, 
and present him with half-a-crown. It does him good, no 
doubt, but scarcely helps him forward, since you find him 
lying drunk that same evening in the wheelwright's sawpit 
under the shed where the felled trees are, opposite the 
sign of the Three Jolly Hedgers. 

But, the most vicious, by far, of all the idle tramps, is 
the tramp who pretends to have been a gentleman. 
"Educated," he writes, from the village beer-shop in 
pale ink of a ferruginous complexion ; " educated at 
Trin. Coll. Cam. — nm'sed in the lap of affluence — once 



160 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

in my small way the pattron of the Muses," &c. &c. &c. 
— surely a sympathetic mind will not withhold a trifle, to 
help him on to the market-town where he thinks of giving 
a Lecture to the fruges consumere nati, on things m 
general? This shameful creature lolling about hedge 
taprooms in his ragged clothes, now so far from being 
black that they look as if they never can have been black, 
is more selfish and insolent than even the savage tramp. 
He would sponge on the poorest boy for a farthing, 
and spurn him when he had got it ; he would interpose 
(if he could get anything by it) between the baby and the 
mother's breast. So much lower than the company he 
keeps, for his maudlin assumption of being higher, this 
pitiless rascal bUghts the summer road as he maunders 
on between the luxuriant hedges : where (to my think- 
ing) even the wild convolvulus and rose and sweetbriar, 
are the worse for his going by, and need time to recover 
from the taint of him in the air. 

The young fellows who trudge along barefoot, five or 
six together, their boots slung over their shoulders, their 
shabby bundles under their arms, their sticks newly cut 
from some roadside wood, are not eminently prepossess- 
ing, but are much less objectionable. There is a tramp- 
fellowship among them. They pick one another up at 
resting stations, and go on in companies. They always 
go at a fast swing — ^though they generally limp too — and 
there is invariably one of the company who has much 
ado to keep up mth the rest. They generally talk about 
horses, and any other means of locomotion than walking : 
or, one of the company relates some recent experiences of 



TRAJMP HANDICRAFT M^\:N^. 161 

the road — which are always disputes and difficulties. 
As for example. " So as I'm a standing at the pump in 
the market, blest if there don't come up a Beadle, and he 
ses, ^Mustn't stand here,' he ses. 'Why not?' I ses. 
'No beggars allowed in this town,' he ses, 'Who's a 
beo^cpar?' I ses. ' You are,' he ses. 'Who ever see me 
beg? Did youV I ses. 'Then you're a tramp,' he ses. 
' I'd rather be that, than a Beadle,' I ses." (The company 
express great approval.) " ' Would you,' he ses to me. 
' Yes I would,' I ses to him. ' Well,' he ses, ' anyhow, 
get out of this town.' 'Why, blow your Httle town !' I 
ses, ' w^ho w^ants to be in it ? Wot does your dirty little 
towTi mean by comin' and stickin' itself in the road to 
any^vhere ? AVliy don't you get a shovel and a barrer, 
and clear your town out o' people's way ? ' " (The com- 
pany expressing the highest approval and laughing aloud, 
they all go down the hill.) 

Then, there are the tramp handicraft men. Are they 
not all over England, in this Midsummer time ? Where 
does the lark sing, the corn grow, the mill turn, the river 
run, and they are not among the lights and shadows, 
tinkering, chair-mending, umbrella-mending, clock-mend- 
ing, knife-grinding ? Surely, a pleasant thing, if w^e w^ere 
in that condition of life, to grind our way through Kent, 
Sussex, and Surrey. For the first six weeks or so, we 
should see the sparks we ground off, fiery bright against 
a background of green w^heat and green leaves. A little 
later, and the ripe harvest would pale our sparks from 
red to yellow, until we got the dark newly-tumed land 
for a backgTound again, and they w^ere red once more. 

31 



162 THE LXCQMMEECIAL TRAVELLER. 

By that time, we should have ground our way to the sea 
chffs, and the whiiT of our wheel would be lost in the 
breaking of the waves. Oui' next variety in sparks 
would be derived from contrast ^\ath the gorgeous medley 
of colours in the autumn woods, and, by the time we had 
ground our way round to the heathy lands between 
Reigate and Croydon, doing a prosperous stroke of 
business all along, we should show like a httle firework 
in the Hght frosty air, and be the next best thing to the 
blacksmith's forge. Very agreeable, too, to go on a 
chair-mending tour. What judges we should be of 
rushes, and how knowingly (mth a sheaf and a bottom- 
less chair at our back) we should lounge on bridges, 
looking over at osier-beds. Among all the innume- 
rable occupations that cannot possibly be transacted 
without the assistance of lookers-on, chair-mending may 
take a station in the first rank. When we sat do^vn 
with our backs against the bam or the pubhc-house, 
and began to mend, what a sense of popularity would 
grow upon us. When all the childi^en came to look at 
us, and the tailor, and the general dealer, and the farmer 
who had been givuig a small order at the little saddler's, 
and the groom from the great house, and the pubhcan, 
and even the two skittle-players (and here note that, 
howsoever busy all the rest of ^dllage human-kind may 
be, there vriYl always be two people with leism'e to 
play at skittles, wherever village skittles are), what en- 
couragement would be on us to plait and weave ! No 
one looks at us while we plait and weave these words. 
Clock-mending again. Except for the sHght inconve- 



CLOCK-MENDIXG TEA3IPS. 1G3 

nience of carrj^ng a clock under our arnij and the mono- 
tony of making the bell go, whenever we came to a 
human habitation, what a pleasant privilege to give a 
voice to the dumb cottage-clock, and set it talking to the 
cottage family again. Likewise we foresee great interest 
in going round by the park plantations, under the over- 
hanging boughs (hares, rabbits, partridges, and pheasants, 
scudding hke mad across and across the chequered ground 
before us), and so over the park ladder, and through the 
wood, until we came to the Keeper s lodge. Then, would 
the Keeper be discoverable at his door, in a deep nest of 
leaves, smoking his pipe. Then, on our accosting him in 
the w^ay of our trade, would he call to ]\Irs. Keeper, re- 
specting " t'ould clock" in the kitchen. Then, would 
Mrs. Keeper ask us into the lodge, and on due examination 
we should offer to make a good job of it for eighteen- 
pence : which offer, being accepted, would set us tinkhng 
and clinking among the chubby awe-struck little Keepers 
for an hour and more. So completely to the family's 
satisfaction would we achieve our work, that the Keeper 
would mention how that there was something \^Tong with 
the bell of the turret stable-clock up at the Hall, and that 
if we thought good of going up to the housekeeper on 
the chance of that job too, why he would take us. Then, 
should we go, among the branching oaks and the deep 
fern, by silent ways of mystery known to the Keeper, 
seeing the herd glancing here and there as we went 
along, until we came to the old Hall, solemn and grand. 
Under the Terrace Flower Garden, and round by the 
stables, would the Keeper take us in, and as we passed 

m2 



164 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

we should observe how spacious and stately the stables, 
and how fine the painting of the horses' names over their 
stalls, and how solitary all : the family being in London. 
Then, should we find ourselves presented to the house- 
keeper, sitting, in hushed state, at needlework, in a bay- 
window looking out upon a mighty grim red-brick qua- 
drangle, guarded by stone lions disrespectfully throwing 
somersaults over the escutcheons of the noble family. 
Tlien, our services accepted and we insinuated with a 
candle into the stable-turret, we should find it to be a 
mere question of pendulum, but one that would hold us 
until dark. Then, should we fall to work, with a general 
impression of Ghosts being about, and of pictures in- 
doors that of a certainty came out of their frames and 
" walked," if the family would only own it. Then, should 
we work and work, until the day gradually turned to 
dusk, and even until the dusk gradually turned to dark. 
Our task at length accomphshed, we should be taken into 
an enormous servants' hall, and there regaled with beef 
and bread, and powerful ale. Then, paid freely, we 
should be at liberty to go, and should be told by a point- 
ing helper to keep round over yinder by the blasted ash, 
and so straight through the woods, till we should see the 
town-lights right afore us. Then, feeling lonesome, should 
we desire upon the whole, that the ash had not been 
blasted, or that the helper had had the manners not to 
mention it. However, we should keep on, all right, till 
suddenly the stable bell would strike ten in the dole- 
fullest way, quite chilling our blood, though we had so 
lately taught him how to acquit himself. Then, as we 



SPECTATOR TRAMPS. 165 

went on, should we recal old stories, and dimly consider 
what it would be most advisable to do, in the event 
of a tall figure, all in white, with saucer eyes, coming up 
and saying, " I want you to come to a churchyard and 
mend a church clock. Follow me!" Then, should we 
make a burst to get clear of the trees, and should soon 
find ourselves in the open, with the town-lights bright 
ahead of us. So should we lie that night at the ancient 
sign of the Crispin and Crispanus, and rise early nex.t 
morning to be betimes on tramp again. 

Bricklayers often tramp, in twos and threes, lying by 
night at their " lodges" which are scattered all over the 
country. Bricklaying is another of the occupations that 
can by no means be transacted in rural parts, without the 
assistance of spectators — of as many as can be convened. 
In thinly-peopled spots, I have known bricldayers on 
tramp, coming up with bricklayers at work, to be so sen- 
sible of the indispensability of lookers-on, that they them- 
selves have set up in that capacity, and have been unable 
to subside into the acceptance of a proffered share in the 
job, for two or three days together. Sometimes, the 
" navvy," on tramp, with an extra pair of half -boots over 
his shoulder, a bag, a bottle, and a can, will take a similar 
part in a job of excavation, and will look at it without 
engaging in it, until all his money is gone. The current 
of my uncommercial pursuits caused me only last summer 
to want a little body of workmen for a certain spell of 
work in a pleasant part of the country ; and I was at one 
time honoured with the attendance of as many as seven- 
and-twenty, who were looking at six. 



166 THE UNCOMMERCI2VL TRAVELLER. 

Who can be familiar with any rustic highway in the 
summer-time^ without storing up knowledge of the many 
tramps who go from one oasis of town or village to 
another, to sell a stock in trade, apparently not worth a 
shilling when sold ? Shrimps are a favourite commodity 
for this kind of speculation, and so are cakes of a soft 
and spongy character, coupled with Spanish nuts and 
brandy balls. The stock is carried on the head in a 
basket, and, between the head and the basket, are the 
trestles on which the stock is displayed at trading times. 
Fleet of foot, but a careworn class of tramp this, mostly ; 
mth a certain stiffness of neck, occasioned by much 
anxious balancing of baskets ; and also with a long Chi- 
nese sort of eye, which an overweighted forehead would 
seem to have squeezed into that form. 

On the hot dusty roads near seaport towns and great 
rivers, behold the tramping Soldier. And if you should 
happen never to have asked yourself whether his uniform 
is suited to his work, perhaps the poor fellow's appearance 
as he comes distressfully towards you, mth his absurdly 
tight jacket unbuttoned, his neck-gear in his hand, and 
his legs well chafed by his trousers of baize, may suggest 
the personal inquiry, how you think you Avould like it. 
Much better the tramping Sailor, although his cloth is 
somewhat too thick for land service. But, why the 
tramping merchant-mate should put on a black velvet 
waistcoat, for a chalky country in the dog-days, is one of 
the great secrets of nature that will never be discovered. 

I have my eye upon a piece of Kentish road, bordered 
on either side by a wood, and having on one hand, be- 



TILVMP CARAVANS. 167 

tween the road-dust and the trees, a skirting patch of 
grass. Wild flowers grow in abundance on this spot, and 
it Hes high and airy, with the distant river stealing 
steadily awav to the ocean, like a man's hfe. To o-ain 
the milestone here, which the moss, primroses, Adolets, 
blue-bells, and wild roses, would soon render illegible bu 
for peering travellers pushing them aside with their sticks, 
you must come up a steep hill, come which way you may. 
So, all the tramps with carts or caravans — the Gipsy- 
tramp, the Show-tramp, the Cheap Jack — find it impos- 
sible to resist the temptations of the place, and all turn 
the horse loose when they come to it, and boil the pot. 
Bless the place, I love the ashes of the vagabond fires 
that have scorched its grass ! ^Vliat tramp children do I 
see here, attii'ed in a handful of rags, making a gymnasium 
of the shafts of the cart, making a feather-bed of the 
flints and brambles, makuig a toy of the hobbled old 
horse who is not much more like a horse than any cheap 
toy would be ! Here, do I encounter the cart of mats 
and brooms and baskets — with all thoughts of business 
given to the evening wind — with the stew made and 
being sei-ved out — with Cheap Jack and Dear Jill strik- 
ing soft music out of the plates that are rattled like war- 
like cymbals when put up for auction at fairs and markets 
— their minds so influenced (no doubt) by the melody of 
the nightingales as they begin to sing in the woods behind 
them, that if I were to propose to deal, they would sell 
me anything at cost price. On tliis hallowed ground has 
it been my happy priA^ilege (let me whisper it), to behold 
the White-haired Lady with the pink eyes, eating meat- 



168 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

pie vn.th the Giant : while, by the hedge-side, on the box 
of blankets which I knew contained the snakes, were set 
forth the cups and saucers and the teapot. It was on an 
evening in August, that I chanced upon this ravishing 
spectacle, and I noticed that, whereas the Giant reclined 
half concealed beneath the overhanging boughs and 
seemed indifferent to Nature, the white hair of the gra- 
cious Lady streamed free in the breath of evening, and 
her pink eyes found pleasure in the landscape. I heard 
only a single sentence of her uttering, yet it bespoke a 
talent for modest repartee. The ill-mannered Giant — 
accursed be his evil race ! — had interrupted the Lady in 
some remark, and, as I passed that enchanted corner of 
the wood, she gently reproved him, with the words, 
" Now, Cobby ;" — Cobby ! so short a name ! — " ain't one 
fool enough to talk at a time ? " 

Within appropriate distance of this magic ground, 
though not so near it as that the song trolled from tap 
or bench at door, can invade its woodland silence, is 
a little hostelry which no man possessed of a penny was 
ever known to pass in warm weather. Before its entrance, 
are certain pleasant trimmed limes : likewise, a cool well, 
with so musical a bucket-handle that its fall upon the 
bucket rim will make a horse prick up his ears and neigh, 
upon the droughty road half a mile off. This is a house 
of great resort for haymaking tramps and harvest tramps, 
insomuch that they sit mthin, drinking their mugs of 
beer, their relinquished scythes and reaping-hooks glare 
out of the open windows, as if the whole establishment 
were a family war-coach of Ancient Britons. Later in 



HOPPING. 169 

the season, the whole countiy-side, for miles and miles, 
^\'ill swarm with hopping tramps. They come in fami- 
lies, men, women, and children, every family provided 
with a bundle of bedding, an iron pot, a number of 
babies, and too often with some poor sick creature quite 
unfit for the rough life, for whom they suppose the smell 
of the fresh hop to be a sovereign remedy. Many of 
these hoppers are Irish, but many come from London. 
They crowd all the roads, and camp under all the hedges 
and on all the scraps of common-land, and live among 
and upon the hops until they are all picked, and the hop- 
garden, so beautiful through the summer, look as if they 
had been laid waste by an invading army. Then, there 
is a vast exodus of tramps out of the county; and if 
you ride or diive round any turn of any road, at more 
than a foot pace, you will be bewildered to find that you 
have charged into the bosom of fifty families, and that 
there are splashing up all around you, in the utmost pro- 
digality of confusion, bundles of bedding, babies, iron 
pots, and a good-humoured multitude of both sexes and 
all ages, equally divided between perspiration and intoxi- 
cation. 



170 THE UNC0iI3J.EKCIAL TKAYELLEE. 



xn. 



DULLBOROUGH TOWX. 



It lately happened that I found myself rambling about 
the scenes among which my earliest days were passed ; 
scenes from which I departed when I was a child, and 
which I did not revisit until I was a man. This is no 
uncommon chance, but one that bef als some of us any 
day ; perhaps it may not be quite uninteresting to com- 
pare notes with the reader respecting an experience so 
familiar and a journey so uncommercial. 

I call my boyhood's home (and I feel like a Tenor in 
an Enghsh Opera when I mention it) DuUborough. Most 
of us come from DuUborough who come from a country- 
town. 

As I left DuUborough in the days when there were no 
railroads in the land, I left it in a stage-coach. Through 
all the years that have since passed, have I ever lost the 
smell of the damp straw in which I was packed — like 
game — and forwarded, carriage paid, to the Cross Keys, 
Wood-street, Cheapside, London ? There was no other 
inside passenger, and I consumed my sandwiches in soh- 



CHANGES. 171 

tude and dreariness, and it rained hard aU the way and I 
thought hfe sloppier than I had expected to find it. 

With this tender remembrance upon me, I was cava- 
lierly shunted back into DuUborough the other day, by 
train. My ticket had been previously collected, like my 
taxes, and my shining new portmanteau had had a great 
plaster stuck upon it, and I had been defied by Act of 
Parliament to offer an objection to anything that was 
done to it, or me, under a penalty of not less than forty 
shilUngs or more than five pounds, compoundable for a 
term of imprisonment. When I had sent my disfigured 
property on to the hotel, I began to look about me ; and 
the first discovery I made, was, that the Station had swal- 
lowed up the playing-field. 

It was gone. The two beautiful hawthorn-trees, the 
hedge, the turf, and all those buttercups and daisies, had 
given place to the stoniest of jolting roads ; while, beyond 
the Station, an ugly dark monster of a tunnel kept its 
jaws open, as if it had swallowed them and were ravenous 
for more destruction. The coach that had carried me 
away, was melodiously called Timpson's Blue-Eyed Maid, 
and belonged to Timpson, at the coach-office up-street ; 
the locomotive engine that had brought me back, was 
called severely No. 97, and belonged to S. E. E., and was 
spitting ashes and hot-water over the blighted ground. 

When I had been let out at the platform-door, like a 
prisoner whom his turnkey grudgingly released, I looked 
in again over the low wall, at the scene of departed 
glories. Here, in the haymaking time, had I been deli- 
vered from the dungeons of Seringapatam, an immense 



172 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

pile (of haycock), by my countrymen, the victorious 
British (boy next door and his two cousins), and had been 
recognised with ecstasy by my affianced one (Miss Green), 
who had come all the way from England (second house 
in the terrace) to ransom me, and marry me. Here, had 
I first heard in confidence, from one whose father was 
greatly connected, being under Government, of the ex- 
istence of a terrible banditti, called ^^The Radicals," 
whose principles were, that the Prince Regent wore stays, 
and that nobody had a right to any salary, and that the 
army and navy ought to be put down — horrors at which 
I trembled in my bed, after supplicating that the Radi- 
cals might be speedily taken and hanged. Here, too, had 
we, the small boys of Boles's, had that cricket match 
against the small boys of Coles's, when Boles and Coles 
had actually met upon the ground, and when, instead of 
instantly hitting out at one another with the utmost fury, 
as we had all hoped and expected, those sneaks had said 
respectively, " I hope Mrs. Boles is well," and " I hope 
Mrs. Coles and the baby are doing charmingly." Could 
it be that, after all this, and much more, the Playing- 
field \vas a Station, and No. 97 expectorated boiling-water 
and redhot cinders on it, and the whole belonged by Act 
of Parliament to S. E. R. ? 

As it could be, and w^as, I left the place with a heavy 
heart for a walk all over the town. And first of Timpson's 
up-street. When I departed from DuUborough in the 
strawy arms of Timpson's Blue-Eyed Maid, Timpson's 
was a moderate-sized coach-office (in fact, a little coach- 



USURPATION OF PICKFORD. 173 

office), with an oval transparency in the window, which 
looked beautiful by night, representing one of Timpson's 
coaches in the act of passing a milestone on the London 
road with great velocity, completely full inside and out, 
and all the passengers dressed in the first style of fashion, 
and enjoying themselves tremendously. I found no such 
place as Timpson's now — no such bricks and rafters, not 
to mention the name — ^no such edifice on the teeming 
earth. Pickford had come and knocked Timpson's down. 
Pickford had not only knocked Timpson's down, but had 
knocked two or three houses do^vn on each side of Timp- 
son's, and then had knocked the whole into one great 
establishment, with a pair of big gates, in and out of 
which, his (Pickford' s) waggons are, in these days, always 
rattling, with their drivers sitting up so high, that they 
look in at the second floor windows of the old fashioned 
houses in the High-street as they shake the town. I have 
not the honour of Pickford's acquaintance, but I felt that 
he had done me an injury, not to say committed an act 
of boyslaughter, in running over my childhood in this 
rough manner ; and if ever I meet Pickford driving one 
of his own monsters, and smoking a pipe the while (which 
is the custom of his men), he shall know by the expression 
of my eye, if it catches his, that there is something wrong 
between us. 

Moreover, I felt that Pickford had no right to come 
rushing into Dullborough and deprive the town of a 
pubhc picture. He is not Napoleon Bonaparte. AVhen 
he took down the transparent stage-coach, he ought to 



174 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

have given the to\\TL a transparent van. With a gloomy 
conviction that Pickford is wholly utilitarian and unima- 
guiative, I proceeded on my way. 

It is a mercy I have not a red and green lamp and a 
night-bell at my door, for in my very young days I was 
taken to so many lyings-in that I wonder I escaped 
becoming a professional martyr to them in after-life. 
I suppose I had a very sympathetic nurse, mth a large 
circle of married acquaintance. However that was, as I 
continued my walk through DuUborough, I found many 
houses to be solely associated in my mind mth this parti- 
cular interest. At one little greengrocer's shop, down 
certain steps from the street, I remembered to have 
waited on a lady who had had four children (I am afraid 
to ^^Tite five, though I fully believe it was five) at a 
birth. This meritorious woman held quite a Reception 
in her room on the morning w^hen I was introduced 
there, and the sight of the house brought vividly to my 
mind how the four (five) deceased young people lay, 
side by side, on a clean cloth on a chest of drawers: 
reminding me by a homely association, which I suspect 
their complexion to have assisted, of pigs' feet as they 
are usually displayed at a neat tripe-shop. Hot caudle 
was handed round on the occasion, and I further remem- 
bered as I stood contemplating the greengrocer's, that a 
subscription was entered into among the company, which 
became extremely alarming to my consciousness of 
having pocket-money on my person. This fact being 
kno^Mi to my conductress, whoever she was, I was 
earnestly exhorted to contribute, but resolutely declined : 



AN EVERGREEN GREENGROCER. 175 

therein disgusting the company, who gave me to under- 
stand that I must dismiss all expectations of going to 
Heaven. 

How does it happen that when all else is change 
wherever one goes, there yet seem, in every place, to be 
some few people who never alter ? As the sight of the 
greengrocer's house recalled these trivial incidents of 
long ago, the identical greengrocer appeared on the 
steps, with his hands in his pockets, and leaning his 
shoulder against the door-post, as my childish eyes had 
seen him many a time ; indeed, there was his old mark 
on the door-post yet, as if his shadow had become a 
fixture there. It was he himself; he might formerly 
have been an old-looking young man, or he might now 
be a young-looking old man, but there he was. In 
walking along the street, I had as yet looked in vain for 
a f amihar face, or even a transmitted face ; here was the 
very greengrocer who had been weighing and handling 
baskets on the morning of the reception. As he brought 
with him a dawTiing remembrance that he had had no 
proprietary interest in those babies, I crossed the road, 
and accosted him on the subject. He was not in the 
least excited or gratified, or in any way roused, by the 
accuracy of my recollection, but said. Yes, summut out 
of the common — he didn't remember how many it was 
(as if half a dozen babes either way made no difference) 
— had happened to a Mrs. What's-her-name, as once 
lodged there — ^but he didn't call it to mind, particular. 
Nettled by this phlegmatic conduct, I informed him that 
I had left the to^vn when I was a child. He slowly re- 



176 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

turned, quite unsoftened, and not without a sarcastic 
kind of complacency, Had I ? Ah ! And did I find it 
had got on tolerably well without me ? Such is the dif- 
ference (I thought, when I had left him a few hundred 
yards behind, and was by so much in a better temper) 
between going away from a place and remaining in it. I 
had no right, I reflected, to be angry with the greengrocer 
for his want of interest. I was nothing to him : whereas 
he was the town, the cathedral, the bridge, the river, my 
childhood, and a large slice of my life, to me. 

Of course the town had shrunk fearfully, since I was 
a child there. I had entertained the impression that the 
High-street was at least as wide as Regent-street, 
London, or the Italian Boulevard at Paris. I found it 
little better than a lane. There was a public clock in it, 
which I had supposed to be the finest clock in the world : 
whereas it now turned out to be as inexpressive, moon- 
faced, and weak a clock as ever I saw. It belonged to a 
Town Hall, w^here I had seen an Indian (who I now 
suppose wasn't an Indian) swallow a sword (which I now 
suppose he didn't). The edifice had appeared to me in 
those days so glorious a structure, that I had set it up in 
my mind as the model on which the Genie of the Lamp 
built the palace for Aladdin. A mean little brick heap, 
like a demented chapel, with a few yawning persons in 
leather gaiters, and in the last extremity for something 
to do, lounging at the door with their hands in their 
pockets, and calling themselve a Corn Exchange ! 

The Theatre was in existence, I found, on asldng the 
fishmonger, who had a compact show of stock in his 



THEATRE ROYAL, DULLBOROUGH. 177 

Window, consisting of a sole and a quart of shrimps — and I 
resolved to comfort my mind by going to look at it. Richard 
the Third, in a very uncomfortable cloak, had first 
appeared to me there, and had made my heart leap with 
terror by backing up against the stage-box in which I 
was posted, while struggling for life against the virtuous 
Richmond. It was within those walls that I had learnt, 
as from a page of English history, how that wicked 
King slept in war-time on a sofa much too short for 
him, and how fearfullv his conscience troubled his boots. 
There, too, had I first seen the funny countryman, but 
countryman of noble principles, in a flowered waistcoat, 
crunch up his little hat and throw it on the ground, and 
pull off his coat, saying, "Dom thee, squire, coom on 
with thy fistes then !" At which the lovely young woman 
who kept company with him (and who went out gleaning, 
in a narrow white muslin apron with five beautiful bars of 
five different colom^ed ribbons across it) was so frightened 
for his sake, that she fainted away. Many wondrous se- 
crets of Nature had I come to the knowledge of in that 
sanctuary : of which not the least terrific were, that the 
witches in Macbeth bore an awful resemblance to the 
Thanes and other proper inhabitants of Scotland ; and 
that the good King Duncan couldn't rest in his grave, 
but was constantly coming out of it, and calling himself 
somebody else. To the Theatre, therefore, I repaired for 
consolation. But I found very Httle, for it was in a bad and 
a declining way. A dealer in wine and bottled beer had 
already squeezed his trade into the box-office, and the 
theatrical money was taken — ^when it came — in a kind of 

N 



178 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

meat-safe in the passage. The dealer in wane and bottled 
beer must have insinuated himself under the stage too ; 
for he announced that he had various descriptions of al- 
coholic drinks " in the wood," and there was no possible 
stowage for the wood anyw^here else. Evidently, he was 
by degrees eating the estabhshment away to the core, and 
would soon have sole possession of it. It was To Let, and 
hopelessly so, for its old purposes ; and there had been no 
entertainment wdthin its walls for a long time, except a 
Panorama ; and even that had been announced as " plea- 
singly instructive," and I knew too well the fatal mean- 
ing and the leaden import of those terrible expressions. 
Ho, there was no comfort in the Theatre. It was myste- 
riously gone, hke my own youth. Unlike my own youth, 
it might be coming back some day ; but there was little 
promise of it. 

As the town was placarded with references to the 
Dullborough Mechanics' Institution, I thought I would 
go and look at that establishment next. There had been 
no such thing in the town, in my young day, and it oc- 
curred to me that its extreme prosperity might have 
brought adversity upon the Drama. I found the Institu- 
tion with some difficulty, and should scarcely have known 
that I had found it if I had judged from its external ap- 
pearance only; but this was attributable to its never 
having been finished, and having no front : consequently, 
it led a modest and retired existence up a stable-yard. It 
was (as I learnt, on inquiry) a most flourishing Institu- 
tion, and of the highest benefit to the town : two triumphs 
w^hich I was glad to understand were not at all impaired 



mecii^\:nics' institutiox. 179 

bv the seemino^ di'awbacks that no mechanics belonired 
to it, and that it was steeped in debt to the chimney-pots. 
It had a large room, which was approached by an infirm 
step-ladder : the builder having declined to construct the 
intended staircase, without a present payment in cash, 
which Dullborough (though profoundly appreciative 
of the Institution) seemed unaccountably bashful about 
subscribing. The large room had cost — or would, when 
paid for — five hundred pounds ; and it had more mortar 
in it and more echoes, than one might have expected to 
get for the money. It was fitted up with a platform, and 
the usual lecturing tools, including a large black board of 
a menacing appearance. On referring to lists of the 
courses of lectures that had been mven in this thrivin<^ 
Hall, I fancied I detected a shjmess in admitting that 
human natui^e when at leisure has anv desire whatever to 
be relieved and diverted ; and a furtive sliding in of any 
poor make-weight piece of amusement, shamefacedly and 
edgewise. Thus, I observed that it was necessary for 
the members to be knocked on the head with Gas, Air, 
Water, Food, the Solar System, the Geological periods, 
Criticism on Milton, the Steam-engine, John Bunyan, 
and Arrow-Headed Inscriptions, before they might be 
tickled by those unaccountable choristers, the negro 
sin2;ers in the court costume of the reicm of Geor^re the 
Second. Likewise, that they must be stunned by a 
weighty inquiiy whether there was internal evidence in 
Shakespeare's works, to prove that his uncle by the 
mother's side lived for some years at Stoke Newington, 
before they were brought-to by a Miscellaneous Concert. 

n2 



180 THE UXCOMMEKCIAL TRAVELLER. 

But, indeed the masking of entertainment, and pretend- 
ing it ^yas something else — as people mask bedsteads 
when they are obliged to have them in sitting-rooms, and 
make beUeve that they are bookcases, sofas, chests of 
drawers, anji:hing rather than bedsteads — was manifest 
even in the pretence of dreariness that the unfortunate 
entertainers themselves felt obliged in decency to put forth 
when they came here. One very agreeable professional 
singer who travelled with two professional ladies, knew 
better than to introduce either of those ladies to sing the 
ballad "Comin' through the Rye" without prefacing 
it himself, with some general remarks on wheat and 
clover; and even then, he dared not for his life call 
the song, a song, but disguised it in the bill as an '' Il- 
lustration." In the library^, also — fitted with shelves 
for three thousand books, and containing upwards of 
one hundred and seventy (presented copies mostly), 
seething theu' edges in damp plaster — there was such 
a painfully apologetic return of 62 offenders who had 
read Travels, Popular Biography, and mere Fiction de- 
scriptive of the asph'ations of the hearts and souls of mere 
human creatures like themselves ; and such an elaborate 
parade of 2 bright examples who had had down Euclid 
after the day's occupation and confinement ; and 3 who 
had had dowQ Metaphysics after ditto ; and 1 who had 
had down Theology after ditto ; and 4 who had worried 
Grammar, Political Economy, Botany, and Logarithms 
all at once after ditto ; that I suspected the boasted class 
to be one man, who had been hired to do it. 

Emerging from the ilechanics' Institution and con- 



VICIOUS AMUSEMENT AXD VIRTUOUS ILLUSTRATION. 181 

tinuino- my walk about the town, I still noticed every- 
where the prevalence, to an extraordinary degree, of this 
custom of putting the natural demand for amusement 
out of sight, as some untidy housekeepers put dust, and 
pretending that it was swept away. And yet it was 
ministered to, in a dull and abortive manner, by all who 
made this feint. Looking in at what is called in Dull- 
borough " the serious bookseller's," where, in my child- 
hood, I had studied the faces of numbers of gentlemen 
depicted in rostrums with a gaslight on each side of them, 
and casting my eyes over the open pages of certain 
printed discourses there, I found a vast deal of aiming at 
Jocosity and dramatic effect, even in them — ^yes, verily, 
even on the part of one very wrathful expounder who 
bitterly anathematised a poor little Circus. Similarly, in 
the reading provided for the young people enrolled in the 
Lasso of Love, and other excellent imions, I found the 
writers generally under a distressing sense that they must 
start (at all events) like story-tellers, and delude the 
young persons into the belief that they were going to be 
interesting. As I looked in at this window for twenty 
minutes by the clock, I am in a position to offer a friendly 
remonstrance — ^not bearing on this particular point — to 
the designers and engravers of the pictures in those pub- 
lications. Have they considered the awful consequences 
likely to flow from their representations of Virtue ? Have 
they asked themselves the question, whether the terrific 
prospect of acquiring that fearful chubbiness of head, 
imwieldiness of arm, feeble dislocation of leg, crispiness 
of hau', and enormity of shirt-collar, which they repre- 



182 THE UXC0M3IERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

sent as inseparable from Goodness, may not tend to con- 
firm sensitive waverers, in Evil? A most impressive 
example (if I had believed it) of what a Dustman and a 
Sailor may come to, when they mend their ways, was 
presented to me in this same shop-window. When they 
were leaning (they were intimate friends) against a post, 
drunk and reckless, with surpassingly bad hats on, and 
their hau' over then' foreheads, they were rather pictu- 
resque, and looked as if they might be agreeable men if 
they would not be beasts. But, when they had got over 
their bad propensities, and when, as a consequence, their 
heads had swelled alarmingly, their hair had got so cm^ly 
that it lifted their blowai-out cheeks up, their coat-cuffs 
w^ere so long that they never could do any w^ork, and 
their eyes w^ere so wide open that they never could do 
any sleep, they presented a spectacle calculated to plunge 
a timid nature into the depths of Infamy. 

But, the clock that had so degenerated since I saw it 
last, admonished me that I had stayed here long enough; 
and I resumed my walk. 

I had not gone fifty paces along the street when I was 
suddenly brought up by the sight of a man who got out 
of a little phaeton at the doctor's door, and went into the 
doctor's house. Immediately, the air was filled mth the 
scent of trodden grass, and the perspective of years 
opened, and at the end of it w^as a little likeness of this 
man keeping a wicket, and I said, " God bless my soul ! 
Joe Specks!" 

Through many changes and much work, I had pre- 
served a tenderness for the memory of Joe, forasmuch as 



JOE SPECKS. 183 

we had made the acquamtance of Roderick Random to- 
gether, and had believed him to be no ruffian, but an in- 
genuous and engaging hero. Scorning to ask the boy- 
left in the phaeton whether it was really Joe, and scorn- 
ing even to read the brass plate on the door — so sure was 
I — I rang the bell and informed the servant maid that a 
stranger sought audience of Mr. Specks. Into a room, 
half surgerj^, half study, I was shown to await his coming, 
and I found it, by a series of elaborate accidents, be- 
strewn with testimonies to Joe. Portrait of Mr. Specks, 
bust of Mr. Specks, silver cup from grateful patient to 
!Mi\ Specks, presentation sermon from local clergymen, 
dedication poem from local poet, dinner-card from local 
nobleman, tract on balance of power from local refugee, 
inscribed Hommage de Tauteur a Specks. 

AYhen my old schoolfellow came in, and I informed 
him mth a smile that I was not a patient, he seemed 
rather at a loss to perceive any reason for smihng in con- 
nexion with that fact, and inquired to what was he to 
attribute the honour? I asked liim, with another smile, 
could he remember me at all ? He had not (he said) that 
pleasure. I was beginnmg to have but a poor opinion of 
Mr. Specks, when he said reflectively, " And yet there's 
a something too." Upon that, I saw a boyish light in his 
eyes that looked well, and I asked him if he could inform 
me, as a stranger who desu'ed to know and had not the 
means of reference at hand, what the name of the young 
lady was, who married IMr. Random? Upon that, he 
said " Narcissa," and, after staring for a moment, called 
me by my name, shook me by the hand, and melted into 



184 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

a roar of laughter. " Why, of course, you'll remember 
Lucy Green," he said, after we had talked a little. " Of 
course," said I. "Whom do you think she married?" 
said he. "You?" I hazarded. " Me," said Specks, " and 
you shall see her." So I saw her, and she was fat, and 
if all the hay in the world had been heaped upon her, it 
could scarcely have altered her face more than Time had 
altered it from my remembrance of the face that had 
once looked down upon me into the fragrant dungeons 
of Seringapatam. But, when her youngest child came in 
after dinner (for I dined with them, and we had no other 
company than Specks, Junior, Barrister-at-L aw, who went 
away as soon as the cloth was removed, to look after the 
young lady to whom he was going to be married next 
week), I saw again, in that little daughter, the little face 
of the hayfield, unchanged, and it quite touched my foolish 
heart. We talked immensely. Specks and Mrs. Specks, 
and I, and we spoke of our old selves as though our old 
selves were dead and gone, and indeed indeed they were 
— dead and gone, as the playing-field that had become a 
wilderness of rusty iron, and the property of S. E. E. 

Specks, however, illuminated Dullborough mth the 
rays of interest that I wanted and should otherwise have 
missed in it, and linked its present to its past, with a 
highly agreeable chain. And in Specks's society I had 
new occasion to observe what I had before noticed in 
similar communications among other men. All the 
schoolfellows and others of old, whom I inquired about, 
had either done superlatively well or superlatively ill — 
had either become uncertificated bankrupts, or been felo- 



TRAVELLER MORE CHANGED THAN TOWN. 185 

riious and got themselves transported ; or had made great 
hits in Hfe, and done wonders. And this is so commonly 
the case, that I never can imagine what becomes of all 
the mediocre people of people's youth — especially, con- 
sidering that we find no lack of the species in our ma- 
turity. But, I did not propound this difficulty to Specks, 
for no pause in the conversation gave me an occasion. 
Nor, could I discover one single flaw in the good doctor 
— ^when he reads this, he will receive in a friendly spirit 
the pleasantly meant record — except that he had for- 
gotten his Roderick Random, and that he confounded 
Strap with Lieutenant Hatchway ; who never knew Ran- 
dom, howsoever intimate with Pickles. 

When I went alone to the Railway to catch my train at 
night (Specks had meant to go with me, but was inoppor- 
tunely called out), I was in a more charitable mood with 
Dullborough than I had been all day ; and yet in my 
heart I had loved it all day too. Ah ! who was I that I 
should quarrel with the town for being changed to me, 
when I myself had came back, so changed, to it ! All 
my early readings and early imaginations dated from this 
place;, and I took them away so full of innocent construc- 
tion and guileless belief, and I brought them back so 
worn and torn, so much the wiser and so much the 
worse ! 



186 THE UNC03IiIERCIAL TKAVELLEE. 



xni. 



NIGHT WALKS. 



Some years ago, a temporary inability to sleep, refer- 
able to a distressing impression, caused me to walk about 
the streets all night, for a series of several nights. The 
disorder might have taken a long time to conquer, if it 
had been faintly experimented on in bed ; but, it was 
soon defeated by the brisk treatment of getting up 
directly after lying down, and going out, and coming 
home tired at sunrise. 

In the course of those nights, I finished my education 
in a fair amateur experience of houselessness. My prin- 
cipal object being to get through the night, the pursuit 
of it brought me into sympathetic relations with people 
who have no other object every night in the year. 

The month was March, and the weather damp, cloudy, 
and cold. The sun not rising before half -past five, the 
night perspective looked sufficiently long at half-past 
twelve : which was about my time for confronting it. 

The restlessness of a great city, and the way in which 
it tumbles and tosses before it can get to sleep, formed 



FALLING OFF ASLEEP. 187 

one of the first entertainments offered to the contempla- 
tion of lis houseless people. It lasted about two hours. 
We lost a great deal of companionship when the late 
pubhc-houses turned their lamps out, and when the pot- 
men thrust the last brawHng diamkards into the street ; 
but stray vehicles and stray people were left us, after that. 
If we were very lucky, a policeman's rattle sprang and a 
fray turned up ; but, in general, surprisingly little of this 
diversion was pro\T[ded. Except in the Haymarket, which 
is the worst kept part of London, and about Kent-street 
in the Borough, and along a portion of the line of the 
Old Kent-road, the peace was seldom violently broken. 
But, it was always the case that London, as if in imitation 
of individual citizens belonging to it, had expiring fits 
and starts of restlessness. After all seemed quiet, if one 
cab rattled by, half a dozen would surely follow; and 
Houselessness even observ^ed that intoxicated people ap- 
peared to be magnetically attracted towards each other : 
so that we knew when w^e saw one drunken object 
staggering against the shutters of a shop, that an- 
other drunken object would stagger up before five mi- 
nutes were out, to fraternise or fight ^dth it. Wlien 
we made a divergence from the regular species of 
drunkard, the thin-armed puff-faced leaden-Hpped gin- 
drinker, and encountered a rarer specunen of a more 
decent appearance, fifty to one but that specimen was 
dressed in soiled mouiiiing. As the street experience in 
the night, so the street experience in the day ; the 
common folk who come unexpectedly into a Httle pro- 
perty, come unexpectedly into a deal of liquor. 



188 THE UXCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

At length these flickering sparks would die away, worn 
out — the last veritable sparks of waking life trailed from 
some late pieman or hot potato man — and London would 
sink to rest. And then the yearning of the houseless 
mind would be for any sign of company, any lighted 
place, any movement, anything suggestive of any one 
being up — nay, even so much as awake, for the houseless 
eye looked out for lights in windows. 

Walking the streets under the pattering rain, House- 
lessness would Avalk and walk and walk, seeing nothing 
but the interminable tangle of streets, save at a comer, 
here and there, two policemen in conversation, or the 
sergeant or inspector looking after his men. Now and 
then in the night — but rarely — Houselessness would 
become aware of a furtive head peering out of a doorway 
a few yards before him, and, coming up with the head, 
would find a man standing bolt upright to keep within 
the doorway's shadow, and evidently intent upon no par- 
ticular service to society. Under a kind of fascination, 
and in a ghostly silence suitable to the time, Houseless- 
ness and this gentleman would eye one another from head 
to foot, and so, without exchange of speech, part, mu- 
tually suspicious. Drip, drip, drip, from ledge and coping, 
splash from pipes and water-spouts, and by-and-by the 
houseless shadow would fall upon the stones that pave 
the way to Waterloo-bridge; it being in the houseless 
mind to have a halfpennyworth of excuse for saying 
" Good night" to the toll-keeper, and catching a glimpse 
of his fire. A good fire and a good great-coat and a 
good woollen neck-shawl, were comfortable things to see 



RIVER AND THEATRE. 189 

in conjunction with the toll-keeper ; also his brisk wake- 
fulness was excellent company when he rattled the 
change of halfpence do^\^l upon that metal table of his, 
like a man who defied the night, with all its sorrowful 
thoughts, and didn't care for the coming of dawn. There 
was need of encouragement on the threshold of the 
bridge, for the bridge was dreary. The chopped up 
murdered man, had not been lowered with a rope over 
the parapet when those nights were ; he was alive, and 
slept then quietly enough most likely, and undisturbed 
by any dream of where he was to come. But the river 
had an awful look, the buildings on the banks were muffled 
in black shrouds, and the reflected lights seemed to ori- 
ginate deep in the water, as if the spectres of suicides 
were holding them to show where they went down. The 
wild moon and clouds were as restless as an evil con- 
science in a tumbled bed, and the very shadow of the 
immensity of London seemed to lie oppressively upon 
the river. 

Between the bridge and the two great theatres, there 
was but the distance of a few hundred paces, so the 
theatres came next. Grim and black mthin, at night, ' 
those great dry Wells, and lonesome to imagine, with the 
rows of faces faded out, the lights extinguished, and the 
seats all empty. One would think that nothing in them 
knew itself at such a lime but Yorick's skull. In one of 
my night walks, as the church steeples were shaking the 
March winds and rain with the strokes of Four, I passed 
the outer boundary of one of these great deserts, and 
entered it. With a dim laiatern in my hand, I groped 



190 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

my well-known way to the stage and looked over the 
orchestra — which was like a great grave dug for a time 
of pestilence — into the void beyond. A dismal cavern of 
an immense aspect, with the chandelier gone dead like 
everything else, and nothing visible through mist and fog 
and space, but tiers of winding-sheets. The ground at 
my feet where, when last there, I had seen the peasantry 
of Naples dancing among the vines, reckless of the burn- 
ing mountain which threatened to overwhelm them, was 
now in possession of a strong serpent of engine-hose, 
watchfidly lying in wait for the serpent Fire, and ready 
to fly at it if it showed its forked tongue. A ghost of a 
watchman, carrying a faint corpse-candle, haunted the 
distant upper gallery and flitted away. Ketiring within 
the proscenium, and holding my light above my head 
towards the roUed-up curtain — green no more, but black 
as ebony — my sight lost itself in a gloomy vault, show- 
ing faint indications in it of a ship\\T:eck of canvas and 
cordage. Methought I felt much as a diver might, at 
the bottom of the sea. 

In those small hours w^hen there was no movement in 
the streets, it afforded matter for reflection to take New- 
gate in the way, and, touching its rough stone, to think 
of the prisoners in their sleep, and then to glance in at 
the lodge over the spiked wicket, and see the fire and 
light of the watching turnkeys, on the white wall. Not 
an inappropriate time either, to linger by that wicked 
little Debtors' Door — shutting tighter than any other 
door one ever saw — which has been Death's Door to so 
many. In the days of the uttering of forged one-pound 
notes by people tempted up from the country, how many 



DRY ROT IX MEN. 191 

hundreds of wretched creatures of both sexes — many 
quite innocent — swung out of a pitiless and inconsistent 
world, ^nth the tower of yonder Christian church of 
Saint Sepulclu'e monstrously before their eyes ! Is there 
any haunting of the Bank Parlour by the remorseful 
souls of old directors, in the nights of these later days, I 
wonder, or is it as quiet as this degenerate Aceldama of 
an Old Bailey ? 

To walk on to the Bank, lamenting the good old times 
and bemoaning the present evil period, would be an easy 
next step, so I would take it, and would make my house- 
less circuit of the Bank, and give a thought to the trea- 
sm'e within ; likewise to the guard of soldiers passing the 
night there, and nodding over the fire. Next, I went to 
Billingsgate, in some hope of market-people, but it prov- 
ing as yet too early, crossed London-bridge and got doA\Ti 
by the water-side on the Surrey shore among the build- 
ings of the great brewery. There was plenty going on 
at the brewery ; and the reek, and the smell of grains, 
and the rattling of the plump dray horses at their mangers, 
were capital company. Quite refreshed by having min- 
gled with this good society, I made a new start with a 
new heart, setting the old King's Bench prison before 
me for my next object, and resolving, when I should 
come to the wall, to think of poor Horace Kinch, and the 
Dry Hot in men. 

A very curious disease the Dry Eot in men, and dif- 
ficult to detect the beginning of. It had carried Horace 
Ench inside the wall of the old King's Bench prison, 
and it had earned him out with his feet foremost. He 
was a likely man to look at, in the prime of life, well to 



192 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

do, as clever as he needed to be, and popular among many 
friends. He was suitably married, and had healthy and 
pretty children. But, like some fair-looking houses or 
fair-looking ships, he took the Dry Rot. The first strong 
external revelation of the Dry Rot in men, is a tendency 
to lurk and lounge ; to be at street-comers without intel- 
ligible reason ; to be going anywhere when met ; to be 
about many places rather than at any ; to do nothing 
tangible, but to have an intention of performing a variety 
of intangible duties to-morrow or the day after. When 
this manifestation of the disease is observed, the observer 
will usually connect it with a vague impression once 
formed or received, that the patient was living a little too 
hard. He will scarcely have had leisure to turn it over 
in his mind and form the terrible suspicion " Dry Rot," 
when he will notice a change for the worse in the patient's 
appearance : a certain slovenhness and deterioration, which 
is not poverty, nor dirt, nor intoxication, nor ill-health, 
but simply Dry Rot. To this, succeeds a smell as of 
strong waters, in the morning; to that, a looseness re- 
specting money ; to that, a stronger smell as of strong 
waters, at all times ; to that, a looseness respecting 
everything ; to that, a trembhng of the limbs, som- 
nolency, misery, and crumbhng to pieces. As it is in 
wood, so it is in men. Dry Rot advances at a com- 
pound usury quite incalculable. A plank is found in- 
fected with it, and the whole structure is devoted. Thus 
t had been with the unhappy Horace Kinch, lately buried 
by a small subscription. Those who knew him had not 
nigh done saying, " So well off, so comfortably established, 



EQUAL BY NIGHT ? 193 

with such hope before him — and yet, it is feared, with a 
slight touch of Dry Rot !" when lo ! the man was all Dry 
Rot and dust. 

From the dead wall associated on those houseless nights 
with this too common story, I chose next to wander by 
Bethlehem Hospital ; partly, because it lay on my road 
round to Westminster ; partly, because I had a night 
fancy in my head which could be best pursued within 
sight of its walls and dome. . And the fancy was this : 
Are not the sane and the insane equal at night as the 
sane he a dreaming ? Are not all of us outside this hos- 
pital, who dream, more or less in the condition of those 
inside it, every night of our lives ? Are we not nightly 
persuaded, as they daily are, that we associate preposte- 
rously with kings and queens, emperors and empresses, 
and notabilities of all sorts ? Do we not nightly jumble 
events and personages and times and places, as these do 
daily ? Are we not sometimes troubled by our own sleep- 
ing inconsistencies, and do we not vexedly try to account 
for them or excuse them, just as these do sometunes in 
respect of their waking delusions ? Said an afflicted man 
to me, when I was last in a hospital like this, '' Sir, I can 
frequently fly." I was half ashamed to reflect that so could 
I — ^by night. Said a woman to me on the same occasion, 
" Queen Victoria frequently comes to dine with me, and 
her Majesty and I dine off peaches and maccaroni in our 
night-gowns, and his Royal Highness the Prince Consort 
does us the honour to make a third on horseback in a 
Field-Marshal's uniform." Could I refrain from redden- 
ing with consciousness when I remembered the amazing 

o 



194 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

royal parties I myself had given (at night), the unac- 
countable viands I had put on table, and my extraor- 
dinary manner of conducting myself on those distin- 
guished occasions ? I wonder that the great master who 
knew everything, when he called Sleep the death of each 
day's life, did not call Dreams the insanity of each day's 
sanity. 

By this time I had left the Hospital behind me, and 
was again setting towards the river; and in a short 
breathing space I was on Westminster-bridge, regaling 
my houseless eyes with the external walls of the British 
Parliament — the perfection of a stupendous institution, I 
know, and the admiration of all surrounding nations and 
succeeding ages, I do not doubt, but perhaps a little the 
better now and then for being pricked up to its work. 
Turning off into Old Palace-yard, the Comls of Law 
kept me company for a quarter of an hour ; hinting in 
low whispers what numbers of people they were keeping 
awake, and how intensely wretched and horrible they 
were rendering the small hours to unfortunate suitors. 
Westminster Abbey was fine gloomy society for another 
quarter of an hour ; suggesting a wonderful procession of 
its dead among the dark arches and pillars, each century- 
more amazed by the century following it than by all the 
centuries going before. And indeed in those houseless 
nisrht walks — ^which even included cemeteries where watch- 
men went round among the graves at stated times, and 
moved the tell-tale handle of an index which recorded 
that they had touched it at such an hour — ^it was a solemn 
consideration what enormous hosts of dead belong to one 



CLOCK STRIKES THKEE. 195 

old 2Teat citv, and liow, if tliey were raised while the 
living slept, there would not be the space of a pin's point 
in all the streets and ways for the living to come out into. 
Not only that, but the vast ai'mies of dead would over- 
flow the hills and valleys beyond the city, and would 
stretch away all round it, God knows how far. 

When a church clock strikes, on houseless ears in the 
dead of the night, it may be at first mistaken for com- 
pany and hailed as such. But, as the spreading circles 
of vibration, which you may perceive at such a time with 
great clearness, go opening out, for ever and ever after- 
wards widening perhaps (as the philosopher has suggested) 
in eternal space, the mistake is rectified and the sense of 
loneliness is profounder. Once — it was after leaving the 
Abbey and tiuniing my face north — I came to the great 
steps of Saint Martin's church as the clock was striking 
Three. Suddenly, a .thing that in a moment more I 
should have trodden upon T\dthout seeing, rose up at my 
feet with a ox^ of loneliness and houselessness, struck out 
of it by the bell, the like of which I never heard. We 
then stood face to face looking at one another, frightened 
by one another. The creature was like a beetle-browed 
hair-Hpped youth of twenty, and it had a loose bundle of 
rags on, which it held together with one of its hands. It 
shivered from head to foot, and its teeth chattered, and 
as it stared at me — persecutor, devU, ghost, whatever it 
thought me — it made %vith its whining mouth as if it were 
snapping at me, like a worried dog. Intending to give 
this ugly object, money, I put out my hand to stay it — 
for it recoiled as it whined and snapped — and laid my 

o2 



196 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

hand upon its shoulder. Instantly, it twisted out of its 
garment, Hke the young man in the New Testament, and 
left me standing alone wdth its rags in my hand. 

Covent-garden Market, when it was market morning, 
was wonderful company. The great waggons of cab- 
bages, with growers' men and boys lying asleep under 
them, and wdtli sharp dogs from market-garden neigh- 
bourhoods looking after the whole, w^ere as good as a 
party. But one of the worst night sights I know in 
London, is to be fomid in the children who prowl 
about this place ; wdio sleep in the baskets, fight for the 
offal, dart at any object they think they can lay their 
thieving hands on, dive under the carts and barrows, 
dodge the constables, and are perpetually making a 
blunt pattering on the pavement of the Piazza with the 
rain of their naked feet. A painful and mmatural 
result comes of the comparison one is forced to institute 
betw^een the growth of corruption as displayed in the so 
much improved and cared for fruits of the earth, and the 
growth of corruption as displayed in these all uncared 
for (except inasmuch as ever-hunted) savages. 

There was early coffee to be got about Covent-garden 
Market, and that w^as more company — warm company, 
too, which was better. Toast of a very substantial qua- 
lity, was likewise procurable : though the towzled-headed 
man who made it, in an inner chamber wdthin the coffee- 
room, hadn't got his coat on yet, and was so heavy with 
sleep that in every interval of toast and coffee he w^ent off 
anew behind the partition into complicated cross-roads of 
choke and snore, and lost his way directly. Into one of 



THE MAN WITH THE PUDDING. 197 

these establishments (among the earliest) near Bow-street, 
there came, one morning as I sat over my houseless cup, 
pondering where to go next, a man in a high and long 
snuff-coloured coat, and shoes, and, to the best of my 
belief, nothing else but a hat, who took out of his hat a 
large cold meat pudding ; a meat pudding so large that 
it was a very tight fit, and brought the lining of the hat 
out with it. This mysterious man was known by his 
pudding, for, on his entering, the man of sleep brought 
him a pint of hot tea, a small loaf, and a large knife and 
fork and plate. Left to himself in his box, he stood the 
pudding on the bare table, and, instead of cutting it, 
stabbed it, over-hand, with the knife, like a mortal 
enemy ; then took the knife out, waped it on his sleeve^ 
tore the pudding asunder with his fingers, and ate it all 
up. The remembrance of this man with the pudding 
remains with me as the remembrance of the most spectral 
person my houselessness encountered. Twice only was I 
in that establishment, and twice I saw him stalk in (as I 
should say, just out of bed, and presently going back to 
bed), take out his pudding, stab his pudding, wipe the 
dagger, and eat his pudding all up. He was a man whose 
figure promised cadaverousness, but who had an exces- 
sively red face, though shaped like a horse's. On the 
second occasion of my seeing him, he said, huskily to the 
man of sleep, "Am I red to-night?" "You are," he 
uncompromisingly answered. "My mother," said the 
spectre, " was a red-faced woman that liked drink, and 
I looked at her hard when she laid in her coffin, and I 
took the complexion." Somehow, the pudding seemed 



198 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TKAVELLER. 

an unwholesome pudding after that^ and I put myself in 
its way no more. 

Wlien there was no market, or when I wanted variety, 
a railway terminus with the morning mails coming in, 
was remunerative company. But like most of the com- 
pany to be had in this world, it lasted only a very short 
time. The station lamps would burst out ablaze, the 
porters would emerge from places of concealment, the 
cabs and trucks would rattle to their places (the post- 
office carts were already in theirs), and, finally, the bell 
would strike up, and the train would come banging in. 
But, there were few passengers and little luggage, and 
everything scuttled away with the greatest expedition. 
The locomotive post-offices, with their great nets — as if 
they had been dragging the country for bodies — ^would 
fly open as to their doors, and would disgorge a smell of 
lamj), an exhausted clerk, a guard in a red coat, and their 
bags of letters; the engine would blow and heave and 
perspire, like an engine wiping its forehead and saying 
what a run it had had ; and mthin ten minutes tlie lamps 
were out, and I was houseless and alone again. 

But now, there w^ere driven cattle on the high road 
near, wanting (as cattle always do) to turn into the 
midst of stone walls, and squeeze themselves through six 
inches' width of iron railing, and getting their heads 
down (also as cattle ahvays do) for tossing-purchase at 
quite imaginary dogs, and giving themselves and every de- 
voted creature associated with them a most extraordinary 
amount of unnecessary trouble. Now, too, the conscious 
gas began to grow pale with the knowledge that dayhght 



DAY COMING OX. 199 

was coming, and straggling workpeople were already in 
the streets, and, as waking life had become extinguished 
with the last pieman's sparks, so it began to be rekindled 
with the fires of the first street comer breakfast-sellers. 
And so by faster and faster degrees, until the last de- 
grees were very fast, the day came, and I was tilled and 
could sleep. And it is not, as I used to think, going 
home at such times, the least wonderful thing in London, 
that in the real desert region of the night, the houseless 
wanderer is alone there. I knew well enough where to 
find Vice and !Misf ortune of all kinds, if I had chosen ; 
but they were put out of sight, and my houselessness had 
many miles upon miles of streets in which it could, and 
did, have its own soHtary way. 



200 THE UNCOMMEECIAL TRAVELLER. 



XIV. 



CHAMBERS. 



Haying occasion to transact some business mth a 
solicitor who occupies a highly suicidal set of chambers 
in Gray's Inn, I afterwards took a turn in the large 
square of that stronghold of Melancholy, reviewing, with 
congenial surroundings, my experiences of Chambers. 

I began, as was natural, with the Chambers I had just 
left. They were an upper set on a rotten staircase, with 
a mysterious bunk or bulkhead on the landing out- 
side them, of a rather nautical and Screw CoUier-hke 
appearance than otherwise, and painted an intense black. 
Many dusty years have passed, since the' appropriation 
of this DsiYj Jones's locker to any purpose, and during 
the whole period within the memory of Hving man, it has 
been hasped and padlocked. I cannot quite satisfy my 
mind whether it was originally meant for the reception 
of coals, or bodies, or as a place of temporary seciu^ity for 
the plunder " looted " by laundresses ; but I incline to 
the last opinion. It is about breast-high, and usually 
serves as a bulk for defendants in reduced circumstances 



THE solicitor's SET. 201 

to lean against and ponder at, when they come on the 
hopeful errand of trjang to make an arrangement with- 
out money — under which auspicious circumstances it 
mostly happens that the legal gentleman they want to 
see, is much engaged, and they pervade the staircase for 
a considerable period. Against this opposing bulk, in 
the absurdest manner, the tomb-like outer door of the 
solicitor's chambers (which is also of an intense black) 
stands in dark ambush, half open, and half shut, all day. 
The solicitor's apartments are three in number ; consist- 
ing of a slice, a cell, and a wedge. The slice is assigned 
to the two clerks, the cell is occupied by the principal, 
and the wedge is devoted to stray papers, old game 
baskets from the country, a washing-stand, and a model 
of a patent Ship's Caboose which was exhibited in 
Chancery at the commencement of the present century 
on an application for an injunction to restrain infringe- 
ment. At about half-past nine on every week-day morn- 
ing, the younger of the two clerks (who, I have reason 
to believe, leads the fashion at Pentonville in the articles 
of pipes and shirts) may be found knocking the dust out 
of his official door-key on the bunk or locker before 
mentioned; and so exceedingly subject to dust is his 
key, and so very retentive of that superfluity, that in 
exceptional summer weather when a ray of sunlight has 
fallen on the locker in my presence, I have noticed its 
inexpressive countenance to be deeply marked by a kind 
of Bramah erysipelas or small-pox. 

This set of chambers (as I have gradually discovered, 
when I have had restless occasion to make inquiries or 



202 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

leave messages, after office hours) is under the charge of 
a lady named Sweeney, in figure extremely like an old 
family-umbrella : whose dwelling confronts a dead wall 
in a court off Gray's Inn-lane, and who is usually 
fetched into the passage of that bower, when wanted, 
from some neighbouring home of industry, which has 
the curious property of imparting an inflammatory ap- 
pearance to her visage. IVirs. Sweeney is one of the 
race of professed laundresses, and is the compiler of a 
remarkable manuscript volume entitled " Mrs. Sweene/s 
Book," from which much curious statistical information 
may be gathered respecting the high prices and small 
uses of soda, soap, sand, firewood, and other such articles. 
I have created a legend in my mind — and consequently 
I believe it with the utmost pertinacity — ^that the late 
Mr. Sweeney was a ticket-porter under the Honourable 
Society of Gray's Inn, and that, in consideration of his 
long and valuable services, Mrs. Sweeney was appointed 
to her present post. For, though devoid of personal 
charms, I have observed this lady to exercise a fascina- 
tion over the elderly ticket-porter mind (particularly 
under the gateway, and in comers and entries), which I 
can only refer to her being one of the fraternity, yet not 
competing with it. All that need be said concerning this 
set of chambers, is said, when I have added that it is in 
a large double house in Gray's Inn-square, very much 
out of repair, and that the outer portal is ornamented in 
a hideous manner with certain stone remains, which have 
the appearance of the dismembered bust, torso, and limbs, 
of a petrified bencher. 



EUINS OF gray's INN. 203 

Indeed, I look upon Gray's Inn generally as one of the 
most depressing institutions in brick and mortar, known 
to the children of men. Can anything be more dreary 
than its arid Square, Saharah Desert of the law, with the 
ugly old tiled-topped tenements, the dirty windows, the 
bills To Let To Let, the door-posts inscribed like grave- 
stones, the crazy gateway giving upon the filthy Lane, 
the scowling iron-barred prison-like passage into Verulam- 
buildings, the mouldy red-nosed ticket-porters with little 
coffin plates and why with aprons, the dry hard atomy- 
like appearance of the whole dust-heap ? When my un- 
commercial travels tend to this dismal spot, my comfort 
is, its rickety state. Imagination gloats over the fulness 
of time, when the staircases shall have quite tumbled 
down — they are daily wearing into an ill-savoured powder, 
but have not quite tumbled down yet — when the last old 
prolix bencher all of the olden time, shall have been got 
out of an upper Avindow by means of a Fire-Ladder, 
and carried off to the Holbom Union; when the last 
clerk shall have engrossed the last parchment behind the 
last splash on the last of the mud-stained windows, which, 
all through the miry year, are pilloried out of recognition 
in Gray's Inn-lane. Then, shall a squalid little trench, 
with rank grass and a pump in it, lying between the 
coffee-house and South-square, be wholly given up to 
cats and rats, and not, as now, have its empire divided 
between those animals and a few briefless bipeds — surely 
called to the Bar by voices of deceiving spirits, seeing 
that they are wanted there by no mortal — ^who glance 
down, with eyes better glazed than their casements, from 



204 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

their dreary and lacklustre rooms. Then shall the way 
Nor' Westward^ now lying under a short giim colonnade 
where in summer time pounce flies from law-stationering 
windows into the eyes of laymen, be choked with rubbish 
and happily become impassable. Then shall the gardens 
where turf, trees, and gravel wear a legal livery of black, 
run rank, and pilgrims go to Gorhambury to see Bacon's 
effigy as he sat, and not come here (which in truth they 
seldom do) to see where he walked. Then, in a word, 
shall the old-established vendor of periodicals sit alone in 
his little crib of a shop behind the Holborn Gate, like 
that lumbering Marius among the ruins of Carthage, who 
has sat heavy on a thousand million of similes. 

At one period of my uncommercial career I much fre^ 
quented another set of chambers in Gray's Inn-square. 
They were what is familiarly called " a top set," and all 
the eatables and drinkables introduced into them acquired 
a flavour of Cockloft. I have known an unopened Stras- 
bourg pate fresh from Fortnum and Mason's, to draw in 
this cockloft tone through its crockery dish, and become 
penetrated with cockloft to the core of its inmost truffle 
in three-quarters of an hour. This, however, was not the 
most curious feature of those chambers ; that, consisted 
in the profound conviction entertained by my esteemed 
friend Parkle (their tenant) that they were clean. 
Whether it was an inborn hallucination, or whether it 
was imparted to him by jMts. Miggot the laundress, I 
never could ascertain. But, I believe he would have gone 
to the stake upon the question. Now, they were so dirty 
that I could take off the distinctest impression of my 



parkle's set. 205 

figure on any article of fumitm^e by merely lounging 
upon it for a few moments ; and it used to be a private 
amusement of mine to print myself off — if I may use the 
expression — all over the rooms. It was the first large 
circulation I had. At other times I have accidentally 
shaken a window-curtain while in animated conversation 
\^'itll ParklCj and struggling insects which were certainly 
red, and were certainly not ladybirds, have dropped on 
the back of my hand. Yet Parkle lived in that top set 
years, bound body and soul to the superstition that they 
were clean. He used to say, when congratulated upon 
them, " Well, they are not like chambers in one respect, 
you know ; they are clean." Concurrently, he had an 
idea which he could never explain, that Mrs. Miggot was 
in some way connected with the Church. When he was 
in particularly good spirits, he used to believe that a 
deceased uncle of hers had been a Dean ; when he was 
poorly and low, he believed that her brother had been a 
Cm'ate. I and iVIrs. Miggot (she was a genteel woman) 
were on confidential terms, but I never knew her to 
commit herself to any distinct assertion on the subject ; 
she. merely claimed a proprietorship in the Church, by 
looking when it was mentioned, as if the reference 
awakened the slumbering Past, and were personal. It 
may have been his amiable confidence in Mrs. Miggot's 
better days that inspired my friend ^dth his delusion re- 
specting the chambers, but he never wavered in his 
fidelity to it for a moment, though he wallowed in dirt 
seven years. 

Two of the windows of these chambers looked down 



206 THE uxco:mmercial. trayeller. 

into the garden; and we have sat up there together, 
many a summer evening, saying how pleasant it was, and 
talking of many things. To my intimacy with that top 
set, I am indebted for three of my liveliest personal im- 
pressions of the loneliness of life in chambers. They 
shall follow here, in order ; first, second, and third. 

First. My Gray's Inn friend, on a time, hurt one of 
his legs, and it became seriously inflamed. Not knowing 
of his indisposition, I was on my way to visit liim as 
usual, one summer evening, when I was much sui^prised 
by meeting a lively leech in Field-court, Gray's Lni, 
seemingly on his way to the West End of London. As 
the leech was alone, and was of course unable to explain 
liis position, even if he had been inchned to do so (which 
he had not the appearance of being), I passed him and 
went on. Turning the comer of Gray's Lm-square, I 
was beyond expression amazed by meeting another leech 
— also entirely alone, and also proceeding in a westerly 
direction, though with less decision of purpose. Rumi- 
nating on this extraordinary circumstance, and endea- 
vouring to remember whether I had ever read, in the 
Philosophical Transactions or any work on Natural 
History, of a migration of Leeches, I ascended to the 
top set, past the dreary series of closed outer doors of 
offices and an empty set or two, which intervened be- 
tween that lofty region and the surface. Entering my 
friend's rooms, I found him stretched upon his back, 
like Prometheus Bound, with a perfectly demented 
ticket-porter in attendance on him instead of the 
Vulture : which helpless individual, who was feeble and 



parkle's orrosiTE neighbour. 207 

frifijlitened, had (my friend explained to me, in great 
choler) been endeavouring for some hours to apply 
leeches to his leg, and as yet had only got on two out of 
twenty. To this Unfortunate's distraction between a 
damp cloth on which he had placed the leeches to freshen 
them, and the wrathful adjurations of my friend to 
" Stick 'em on, sir ! " I referred the phenomenon I had 
encountered : the rather as two fine specimens were at 
that moment going out at the door, while a general insur- 
rection of the rest was in progress on the table. After a 
while our miited efforts prevailed, and, when the leeches 
came off and had recovered their spirits, we carefully 
tied them up in a decanter. But I never heard more of 
them than that they were all gone next morning, and 
that the Out-of-door young man of Bickle Bush and 
Bodger, on the ground floor, had been bitten and blooded 
by some creature not identified. They never " took " on 
Mrs. Miggot, the laundress ; but, I have always preserved 
fresh, the belief that she unconsciously carried several 
about her, until they gradually found openmgs in life. 

Second. On the same staircase with my friend Parkle, 
and on the same floor, there lived a man of law who pur- 
sued his business elsewhere, and used those chambers as 
his place of residence. For three or four years, Parkle 
rather knew of him than knew him, but after that — for 
Englishmen — short pause of consideration, they began to 
speak. Parkle exchanged words with him in his private 
character only, and knew nothing of his business ways, or 
means. He was a man a srood deal about to^vn, but 
always alone. We used to remark to one another, that 



208 THE UXCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

although we often encountered him in theatres, concert- 
rooms, and similar public places, he was always alone. 
Yet he was not a gloomy man, and was of a decidedly 
conversational turn ; insomuch that he would sometimes 
of an evening lounge with a cigar in his mouth, half in 
and half out of Parkle's rooms, and discuss the topics of 
the day by the hour. He used to hint on these occasions 
that he had four faults to find with life ; firstly, that it 
obliged a man to be always winding up his watch; 
secondly, that London was too small; thirdly, that it 
therefore wanted variety; fourthly, that there was too 
much dust in it. There was so much dust in his own 
faded chambers, certainly, that they reminded me of a 
sepulchre, fiu'nished in prophetic anticipation of the pre- 
sent time, which had newly been brought to light, after 
ha^dng lain buried a few thousand years. One dry hot 
autumn evening at twilight, this man, being then five 
years turned of fifty, looked in upon Parkle in his usual 
lounging way, with his cigar in his mouth as usual, and 
said, " I am going out of town." As he never went out 
of town, Parkle said, " Oh indeed ! At last ? " " Yes," 
says he, " at last. For what is a man to do ? London is 
so small ! If you go West, you come to Hounslow. If 
you go East, you come to Bow. If you go South, there's 
Brixton or Norw^ood. If you go North, you can't get rid 
of Bamet. Then, the monotony of all the streets, streets, 
streets — and of all the roads, roads, roads — and the dust, 
dust, dust ! " When he had said this, he wished Parkle 
a good evening, but came back again and said, with his 
watch in his hand, " Oh, I really cannot go on winding 



ELDERLY TEMPLAR. 209 

lip this watch over and over again ; I wish you would 
take care of it." So, Parkle laughed and consented, and 
the man w^ent out of town. The man remained out of 
town so long, that his letter-box became choked, and no 
more letters could be got into it, and they began to be 
left at the lodge and to accumulate there. At last the 
head-porter decided, on conference with the steward, to 
use his master-key and look into the chambers, and give 
them the benefit of a whiff of air. Then, it was found 
that he had hanged himself to his bedstead, and had left 
this written memorandum : " I should prefer to be cut 
down by my neighbour and friend (if he will allow me 
to call him so), H. Parkle, Esq." This w^as the end of 
Parkle's occupancy of chambers. He went into lodgings 
immediately. 

Third. While Parkle lived in Gray's Inn, and I 
myself was uncommercially preparing for the Bar — 
which is done, as everybody knows, by having a frayed 
old gow^i put on in a pantry by an old woman in a 
chronic state of Saint Anthony's fire and dropsy, and, so 
decorated, bolting a bad dinner in a party of four, 
whereof each indi^ddual mistrusts the other three — I say, 
while these things w^ere, there was a certain elderly 
gentleman who lived in a court of the Temple, and was 
a great judge and lover of port wine. Every day, he 
dined at his club and drank his bottle or two of port wine, 
and every night came home to the Temple and went to 
bed in his lonely chambers. This had gone on many 
years without variation, when one night he had a fit on 
coming home, and fell and cut his head deep, but partly 

P 



210 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

recovered and groped about in the dark to find the door. 
When he was afterwards discovered, dead, it was clearly 
established by the marks of his hands about the room that 
he must have done so. New, this chanced on the night 
of Christmas Eve, and over him lived a young fellow 
who had sisters and young country-friends, and who gave 
them a little party that night,'*in the course of which they 
played at Blindman's Buff. They played that game, for 
their greater sport, by the light of the fire only; and 
once when they were all quietly rustling and stealing 
about, and the blindman was trying to pick out the 
prettiest sister (for which I am far from blaming him), 
somebody cried, Hark ! The man below must be playing 
Bhndman's Buff by himself to-night! They hstened, 
and they heard sounds of some one falling about and 
stumbling against furniture, and they all laughed at the 
conceit, and went on with their play, more light-hearted 
and merry than ever. Thus, those two so different games 
of life and death were played out together, blindfold, in 
the two sets of chambers. 

Such are the occurrences which, coming to my know- 
ledge, imbued me long ago with a strong sense of the 
loneliness of chambers. There was a fantastic illustra- 
tion to much the same purpose implicitly believed by a 
strange sort of man now dead, whom I knew when I had 
not quite arrived at legal years of discretion, though I 
was already in the uncommercial line. 

This was a man who, though not more than thirty, 
had seen the world in divers irreconcilable capacities — 
had been an officer in a South American regiment among 



ME. testator's set. 211 

other odd things — but had not achieved much in any way 
of life, and was in debt, and in hiding. He occupied 
chambers of the dreariest nature in Lyons Inn ; his name, 
however, was not upon the door, or door-post, but in lieu 
of it stood the name of a friend who had died in the 
chambers, and had given him the furniture. The story- 
arose out of the furniture, and was to this effect : — Let 
the fonner holder of the chambers whose name was still 
upon the door and door-post, be Mr. Testator. 

Mr. Testator took a set of chambers in Lyons Inn 
when he had but veiy scanty furnitm'e for his bedroom, 
and none for his sitting-room. He had lived some wintry 
months in this condition, and had found it very bare and 
cold. One night, past midnight, when he sat writing 
and still had waiting to do that must be done before he 
went to bed, he found himself out of coals. He had 
coals down stairs, but had never been to his cellar ; how- 
ever, the cellar-key was on his mantelshelf, and if he 
went down and opened the cellar it fitted, he might 
fairly assimie the coals in that cellar to be his. As to 
his laundress, she lived among the coal-waggons and 
Thames watermen — for there were Thames watermen at 
that time — in some unknown rat-hole by the river, down 
lanes and alleys on the other side of the Strand. As to 
any other person to meet him or obstruct him, Lyons 
Inn was dreaming, drunk, maudhn, moody, betting, 
brooding over bill-discounting or renewing — asleep or 
awake, minding its own affau-s. Mr. Testator took his 
coal-scuttle in one hand, his candle and key in the other, 
and descended to the dismallest undergroimd dens of 

p2 



212 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

Lyons Inn, where the late vehicles in the streets became 
thunderous, and all the water-pipes in the neighbour- 
hood seemed to have Macbeth's Amen sticking in their 
throats, and to be trying to get it out. After groping 
here and there among low doors to no purpose, Mr* 
Testator at length came to a door with a rusty padlock 
which his key fitted. Getting the door open mth much 
trouble, and looking in, he found, no coals, but a con- 
fused pile of furniture. Alarmed by this intrusion on 
another man's property, he locked the door again, found 
his own cellar, filled his scuttle, and returned up-stairs. 

But the furniture he had seen, ran on castors across 
and across ^Ir. Testator's mind incessantly, when, in the 
chill hour of five in the morning he got to bed. He 
particularly wanted a table to write at, and a table ex- 
pressly made to be ^vritten at, had been the piece of fur- 
niture in the foreground of the heap. When his laun- 
dress emerged from her burrow in the morning to make 
his kettle boil, he artfully led up to the subject of cellars 
and furniture ; but the two ideas had evidently no con- 
nexion in her mind. When she left him, and he sat at 
his breakfast, thinking about the furniture, he recalled 
the rusty state of the padlock, and inferred that the fur- 
niture must have been stored in the cellars for a long 
time — was perhaps forgotten — owner dead, perhaps? 
After thinking it over, a few days, in the course of 
which he could pump nothing out of Lyons Inn about 
the furniture, he became desperate, and resolved to 
borrow that table. He did so, that night. He had not 



MR. testator's visitor. 213 

had the table long, when he determined to borrow an 
easy-chair ; he had not had that long, when he made up 
his mind to boiTow a bookcase ; then, a couch ; then, a 
carpet and rug. By that time, he felt he was " in fur- 
niture stepped in so far," as that it could be no worse to 
borrow it all. Consequently, he borrowed it all, and 
locked up the cellar for good. He had always locked it, 
after every visit. He had carried up every separate 
article in the dead of the night, and, at the best, had felt 
as wicked as a Resurrection Man. Every article was 
blue and fiury when brought into his rooms, and he had 
had, in a murderous and guilty sort of way, to polish it 
up while London slept. 

Mr. Testator lived in his furnished chambers two or 
three years, or more, and gradually lulled himself into 
the opinion that the furniture was his own. This was 
his convenient state of mind w^hen, late one night, a step 
came up the stairs, and a hand passed over his door feel- 
ing for his knocker, and then one deep and solemn rap 
was rapped that might have been a spring in Mr. Testa- 
tor's easy-chair to shoot him out of it : so promptly was 
it attended with that effect. 

With a candle in his hand, !Mr. Testator went to the 
door, and found there, a very pale and very tall man ; a 
man who stooped ; a man with very high shoulders, a 
very narrow chest, and a very red nose ; a shabby gen- 
teel man. He was wrapped in a long threadbare black 
coat, fastened up the front with more pins than buttons, 
and under his arm he squeezed an umbrella without a 



214 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

handle, as if he were playing bagpipes. He said, " I 

ask your pardon, but can you tell me '' and stopped ; 

his eyes resting on some object within the chambers. 

" Can I tell you what?" asked Mr. Testator, noting 
this stoppage with quick alarm. 

^' I ask your pardon," said the stranger, '' but — ^this is 
not the inquiry I was going to make — do I see in there, 
any small article of property belonging to me ? " 

Mr. Testator was beginning to stammer that he was 
not aware — ^when the visitor slipped past him, into the 
chambers. There, in a goblin w^ay which froze Mr. 
Testator to the marrow, he examined, first, the writing- 
table, and said, " ]\iine ;" then, the easy-chah^, and said, 
"Mine;" then, the bookcase, and said, "Mine;" then, 
turned up a comer of the carpet, and said, " Mine ! " in 
a word, inspected every item of furniture from the cellar, 
in succession, and said, "Mine!" Towards the end of 
this investigation, Mr. Testator perceived that he was 
sodden with Hquor, and that the hquor was gin. He 
was not unsteady with gin, either in his speech or 
carriage ; but he was stiff with gin in both particulars. 

Mr. Testator was in a dreadful state, for (according 
to his making out of the story) the possible consequences 
of what he had done in recklessness and hardihood, 
flashed upon him in their fulness for the first time. 
When they had stood gazing at one another for a little 
while, he tremulously began : 

" Sir, I am conscious that the fullest explanation, com- 
pensation, and restitution, are your due. They shall be 



MR. testator's APPOESTTMENT. 215 

yours. Allow me to entreat that, without temper, with- 
out even natural irritation on your part, we may have a 

little '' 

" Drop of something to drink," interposed the stranger. 

^^ I am agreeable." 

J^Ir. Testator had intended to say, " a Httle quiet con- 
versation," but with great relief of mind adopted the 
amendment. He produced a decanter of gin, and was 
bustling about for hot water and sugar, when he fomid 
that his visitor had already drunk half of the decanter's 
contents. With hot water and sugar the visitor drank 
the remainder before he had been an hour in the cham- 
bers by the chimes of the church of St. Mary in the 
Strand ; and during the process he frequently whispered 
to himself, "Mne!" 

The gin gone, and ]Mr. Testator w^ondering what was 
to follow it, the visitor rose and said, w^th increased stiff- 
ness, '' At what hour of the morning, sir, will it be con- 
venient ? " Mr. Testator hazarded, " At ten ? " " Sir," 
said the visitor, " at ten, to the moment, I shall be here." 
He then contemplated Mr. Testator somewhat at leisure,, 
and said, " God bless you ! How is your wife?" Mr. 
Testator (who never had a wife) replied \vith much feel- 
ing, " Deeply anxious, poor soul, but otherwise well." 
The visitor thereupon turned and went away, and fell 
twice in going down stairs. From that hour he was 
never heard of. Whether he was a ghost, or a spectral 
illusion of conscience, or a drunken man who had no 
business there, or the drunken rightful owner of the 



216 THE UNCOMMERCIMi TRAVELLER. 

f iirnitui^e^ with a transitory gleam of memory ; whether 
he got safe home, or had no home to get to ; whether he 
died of Hquor on the way, or Hved in liquor ever after- 
wards ; he never was heard of more. This was the story, 
received vdih the furniture and held to be as substantial, 
by its second possessor in an upper set of chambers m 
grim Lyons Inn. 

It is to be remarked of chambers in general, that they 
must have been built for chambers, to have the right 
Jdnd of loneliness. You may make a great dwelling- 
house very lonely, by isolating suites of rooms and call- 
ing them chambers, but you cannot make the true kind 
of loneliness. In dwelling-houses, there have been family 
festivals; children have grown in them, girls have 
bloomed mto women in them, courtships and marriages 
have taken place in them. True chambers never were 
young, childish, maidenly ; never had dolls in them, or 
rocking-horses, or christenings, or betrothals, or little 
coffins. Let Gra/s Inn identify the child who first 
touched hands and hearts with Eobinson Crusoe, in any 
one of its many " sets," and that child's little statue, in 
white marble with a golden inscription, shall be at its 
service, at my cost and charge, as a drinking fountain 
for the spirit, to freshen its thirsty square. Let Lincoln's 
produce from all its houses, a twentieth of the procession 
derivable from any dwelling-house one twentieth of its 
age, of fair young brides who married for love and hope, 
not settlements, and all the Vice-Chancellors shall thence- 
f orw^ard be kept in nosegays for nothing, on application to 



GENUINE CHAMBERS. 217 

the writer hereof. It is not denied that on the terrace of 
the Adelphi, or in any of the streets of that subterranean- 
stable-haunted spot^ or about Bedford-row, or James- 
street of that ilk (a grewsome place), or anywhere among 
the neighbourhoods that have done flowering and have 
run to seed, you may find Chambers replete with the 
accommodations of Solitude, Closeness, and Darkness, 
where you may be as low-spirited as in the genuine ar- 
ticle, and might be as easily murdered, with the placid 
reputation of having merely gone down to the sea-side. 
But, the many waters of life did run musical in those dry- 
channels once; — among the Inns, never. The only 
popular legend known in relation to any one of the dull 
family of Inns, is a dark Old Bailey whisper concerning 
Clement's, and importing how the black creature who 
holds the sun-dial there, was a negro who slew his 
master and built the dismal pile out of the contents of 
his strong-box — for which architectural offence alone he 
ought to have been condemned to live in it. ' But, what 
populace would waste fancy upon such a place, or on 
New Inn, Staple Inn, Barnard's Inn, or any of the 
shabby crew ? 

The genuine laundress, too, is an institution not to be 
had in its entirety out of and away from the genuine 
Chambers. Again, it is not denied that you may be 
robbed elsewhere. Elsewhere you may have — for money 
— dishonesty, drunkenness, dirt, laziness, and profound in 
capacity. But the veritable shining-red-faced, shameless 
laundress ; the true Mrs. Sweeney — in figure, colour, tex- 



218 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

tore, and smell, like the old damp family umbrella ; the tip- 
top complicated abomination of stockings, spirits, bonnet, 
limpness, looseness, and larceny ; is only to be drawn at 
the foimtain-head. Mrs. Sweeney is beyond the reach 
of individual art. It requires the united efforts of seve- 
ral men to ensure that great result, and it is only de- 
veloped in perfection under an Honourable Society and 
in an Inn of Court. 



ROBINSON CRUSOE'S ISLAND. 219 



XV. 

nurse's stories. 

There are not many places that I find it more agree- 
able to revisit when I am in an idle mpod^ than some 
places to which I have never been. For^ my acquaint- 
ance with those spots is of such long standing, and has 
ripened into an intimacy of so affectionate a nature, that 
I take a particular interest in assuring myself that they 
are tmchanged. 

I never was in Eobinson Crusoe's Island, yet I fre- 
quently return there. The colony he estabhshed on it 
soon faded away, and it is uninhabited by any descend- 
ants of the grave and courteous Spaniards, or of Will 
Atkins and the other mutineers, and has relapsed into its 
orimnal condition. Not a twio; of its wicker houses re- 
mains, its goats have long run wild again, its screaming 
parrots would darken the sun with a cloud of many 
flaming colours if a gun were fired there, no face is ever 
reflected in the waters of the Kttle creek which Friday 
swam across when pursued by his two brother cannibals 
with sharpened stomachs. After comparing notes with 
other travellers who have similarly revisited the Island 



220 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

and conscientiously inspected it, I have satisfied myself 
that it contains no vestige of Mr. Atkins's domesticity or 
theolog)^, though his track on the memorable evening of 
his landing to set his captain ashore, when he was decoyed 
about and round about until it was dark, and his boat was 
stove, and his strength and spirits failed him, is yet 
plainly to be traced. So is the hill-top on which Robin- 
son was struck dumb with joy when the reinstated cap- 
tain pointed to the ship, riding within half a mile of the 
shore, that was to bear him away, in the nine-and- 
twentieth year of his seclusion in that lonely place. So 
is the sandy b^ach on which the memorable footstep was 
impressed, and where the savages hauled up their canoes 
when they came ashore for those dreadful pubHc dinners, 
which led to a dancing worse than speech-making. So 
is the cave where the flaring eyes of the old goat made 
such a goblin appearance in the dark. So is the site of 
the hut where Robinson lived with the dog and the parrot 
and the cat, and where he endured those first agonies 
of solitude, which — strange to say — never involved any 
ghostly fancies ; a circiunstance so very remarkable, that 
perhaps he left out something in crating his record? 
Round hundreds of such objects, hidden in the dense 
tropical foliage, the tropical sea breaks evermore; and 
over them the tropical sky, saving in the short rainy 
season, shines bright and cloudless. 

Neither, was I ever belated among wolves, on the 
borders of France and Spain; nor, did I ever, when 
night was closing in and the ground was covered with 
snow, draw up my little company among some felled 



WHERE I NEVER WAS, BUT OFTEN XSl. 221 

trees which served as a breastwork, and there fire a train 
of gunpowder so dexterously that suddenly we had three 
or four score blazing wolves illuminating the darkness 
arornid us. Nevertheless, I occasionally go back to that 
dismal region and perform the feat again ; when indeed 
to smell the singeing and the frying of the wolves afire, 
and to see them setting one another alight as they rush 
and tumble, and to behold them rolling in the snow vainly 
attempting to put themselves out, and to hear their bowl- 
ings taken up by all the echoes as well as by all the un- 
seen wolves within the woods, makes me tremble. 

I was never in the robbers' cave, where Gil Bias lived, 
but I often go back there and find the trap-door just as 
heavy to raise as it used to be, while that wicked old 
disabled Black lies everlastingly cursing in bed. I was 
never in Don Quixote's study where he read his books of 
chivalry until he rose and hacked at imaginary giants, 
and then refreshed himself with great draughts of water, 
yet you couldn't move a book in it without my know- 
ledge, or with my consent. I was never (thank Heaven) 
in company with the little old woman who hobbled out 
of the chest and told the merchant Abudah to go in 
search of the Talisman of Oromanes, yet I make it my 
business to know that she is well preserved and as in- 
tolerable as ever. I was never at the school where the 
boy Horatio Nelson got out of bed to steal the pears : 
not because he wanted any, but because every other boy 
was afraid : yet I have several times been back to this 
Academy, to see him let down out of window with a 
sheet. So with Damascus, and Bagdad, and Brobdingnag 



222 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

(which has the curious fate of being usually misspelt when 
written), and Lilhput, and Laputa, and the Nile, and 
Abyssinia, and the Ganges, and the North Pole, and 
many hundreds of places — I was never at them, yet it is 
an aff ah^ of my hf e to keep them intact, and I am always 
going back to them. 

But, when I was in Dullborough one day, revisiting the 
associations of my childhood as recorded in previous pages 
of these notes, my experience in this wise was made quite 
inconsiderable and of no account, by the quantity of 
places and people — ^utterly impossible places and, people, 
but none the less alarmingly real — that I found I had 
been introduced to by my nurse before I was six years 
old, and used to be forced to go back to at night without 
at all wanting to go. If we all knew- our own minds (in a 
more enlarged sense than the popular acceptation of that 
phrase), I suspect we should find our nurses responsible 
for most of the dark comers we are forced to go back to, 
against our wiUs. 

The first diaboHcal character who intruded himself on 
my peaceful youth (as I called to mind that day at Dull- 
borough), was a certain Captain Murderer. This wretch 
must have been an offshoot of the Blue Beard family, 
but I had no suspicion of the consanguinity in those 
times. His warning name would seem to have awakened 
no general prejudice against him, for he was admitted 
into the best society and possessed immense wealth. Cap- 
tain Murderer^s mission was matrimony, and the gratifi- 
cation of a cannibal appetite with tender brides. On his 
marriage morning, he always caused both sides of the 



CAPTAIN MUIIDERER. 223 

way to church to be planted with curious flowers ; and 
when his bride said, " Dear Captain Murderer, I never 
saw flowers like these before : what are they called ?" he 
answered, " They are called Garnish for house-lamb," and 
laughed at his ferocious practical joke in a horrid manner, 
disquieting the minds of the noble bridal company, with a 
very sharp show of teeth, then displayed for the first time. 
He made love in a coach and six, and married in a coach 
and twelve, and all his horses were milk-wliite horses with 
one red spot on the back which he caused to be hidden by 
the harness. For, the spot would come there, though 
every horse was milk-white when Captain Murderer 
bought him. And the spot was young bride's blood. (To 
this terrific point I am indebted for my first personal ex- 
perience of a shudder and cold beads on the forehead.) 
When Captain Murderer had made an end of feasting 
and revelry, and had dismissed the noble guests, and was 
alone with his vnie on the day month after their marriage, 
it was his whimsical custom to produce a golden roUing- 
pin and a silver pie-board. Now, there was this special 
feature in the Captain's courtships, that he always asked 
if the yoimg lady could make pie-crust; and if she 
couldn't by nature or education, she was taught. Well. 
When the bride saw Captain Murderer produce the 
golden rolHng-pin and silver pie-board, she remembered 
this, and turned up her laced-silk sleeves to make a pie. 
The Captain brought out a sUver pie-dish of immense 
capacity, and the Captain brought out flour and butter 
and eggs and all things needful, except the inside of the 
pie ; of materials for the staple of the pie itself, the Cap- 



224 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER, 

tain brought out none. Then said the lovely bride, " Dear 
Captain Murderer, what pie is this to be ? " He replied, 
^' A meat pie." Then said the lovely bride, " Dear Cap- 
tain Murderer, I see no meat." The Captain humor- 
ously retorted, " Look in the glass." She looked in the 
glass, but still she saw no meat, and then the Captain 
roared with laughter, and, suddenly frowning and draw- 
ing his sword, bade her roll out the crust. So she rolled 
out the crust, dropping large tears upon it all the time 
because he was so cross, and when she had Hned the dish 
with crust and had cut the crust all ready to fit the top, 
the Captain called out, " I see the meat in the glass ! " 
And the bride looked up at the glass, just in time to see 
the Captain cutting her head off ; and he chopped her in 
pieces, and peppered her, and salted her, and put her in 
the pie, and sent it to the baker's, and ate it all, and 
picked the bones. 

Captain Murderer went on in this way, prospering ex- 
ceedingly, until he came to choose a bride from two twin 
sisters, and at first didn't know which to choose. For, 
though one was fair and the other dark, they were both 
equally beautiful. But the fair twin loved him, and the 
dark twin hated him, so he chose the fair one. The dark 
twin would have prevented the marriage if she could, but 
she couldn't ; however, on the night before it, much sus- 
pecting Captain Murderer, she stole out and climbed his 
garden w^all, and looked in at his window through a chink 
in the shutter, and saw him having his teeth filed sharp. 
Next day she listened all day, and heard him make his 
joke about the house-lamb. And that day month, he had 



THE DARK TWIN. 225 

the paste rolled out, and cut the fair twin's head off, and 
chopped her in pieces, and peppered her, and salted her, 
and put her in the pie, and sent it to the baker's, and ate 
it all, and picked the bones. 

Now, the dark twin had had her suspicions much in- 
creased by the filing of the Captain's teeth, and again by 
the house-lamb joke. Putting all things together when 
he gave out that her sister was dead, she divined the 
truth, and determined to be revenged. So, she went up 
to Captain Murderer's house, and knocked at the knocker 
and pulled at the bell, and when the Captain came to the 
door, said : " Dear Captain Murderer, marry me next, for 
I always loved you and was jealous of my sister." The 
Captain took it as a compliment, and made a polite 
answer, and the marriage was quickly arranged. On 
the night before it, the bride again climbed to his window, 
and again saw him having his teeth filed sharp. At this 
sight, she laughed such a terrible laugh, at the chink in 
the shutter, that the Captain's blood curdled, and he said : 
'^ I hope nothing has disagreed with me ! " At that, she 
laughed again, a still more terrible laugh, and the shutter 
was opened and search made, but she was nimbly gone, 
and there was no one. Next day they went to church in 
the coach and twelve, and were married. And that day 
month, she rolled the pie-crust out, and Captain Murderer 
cut her head off, and chopped her in pieces, and peppered 
her, and salted her, and put her in the pie, and sent it to 
the baker's, and ate it all, and picked the bones. 

But before she began to roll out the paste she had 
taken a deadly poison of a most awful character, distilled 

Q 



226 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

from toads' eyes and spiders' knees ; and Captain Mur- 
derer had hardly picked her last bone, when he began to 
swell, and to turn blue, and to be all over spots, and to 
scream. And he went on swelHng and turning bluer and 
being more all over spots and screammg, until he reached 
from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall ; and then, at 
one o'clock in the morning, he blew up with a loud ex- 
plosion. At the sound of it, all the milk-white horses in 
the stables broke their halters and went mad, and then 
they galloped over everybody in Captain Murderer's 
house (beginning with the family blacksmith who had 
filed his teeth) until the whole were dead, and then they 
galloped away. 

Hundreds of times did I hear this legend of Captain 
Murderer, in my early youth, and added hundreds of 
times was there a mental compulsion upon me in bed, to 
peep in at his window as the dark twin peeped, and to re- 
visit his horrible house, and look at him in his blue and 
spotty and screaming stage, as he reached from floor to 
ceihng and from wall to wall. The young woman who 
brought me acquainted with Captain Murderer, had a 
fiendish enjoyment of my terrors, and used to begin, I 
remember — as a sort of introductory overture — ^by claw- 
ing the air with both hands, and uttering a long low 
hollow groan. So acutely did I suffer from this cere- 
mony in combination with this infernal Captain, that I 
sometimes used to plead I thought I was hardly strong 
enough and old enough to hear the story again just yet. 
But, she never spared me one word of it, and indeed com- 



CHIPS THE SHIPWRIGHT. 227 

mended tlie awful chalice to my lips as the only preserva- 
tive known to science against " The Black Cat " — a weird 
and glaring-eyed supernatural Tom, who was reputed to 
prowl about the world by night, sucking the breath of 
infancy, and who was endowed with a special thirst (as I 
was given to understand) for mine. 

This female bard — may she have been repaid my debt 
of obligation to her in the matter of nightmares and 
perspirations ! — reappears in my memory as the daughter 
of a shipwright. Her name was Mercy, though she had 
none on me. There was something of a ship-building 
flavour in the following story. As it always recurs to me 
in a vague association with calomel pills, I believe it to 
have been reserved for dull nights when I was low with 
medicine. 

There was once a shipwright, and he wrought in a 
Government Yard, and his name was Chips. And his 
father's name before him was Chips, and his father's 
name before him was Chips, and they were all Chipses. 
And Chips the father had sold himself to the Devil for 
an iron pot and a bushel of tenpenny nails and half a 
ton of copper and a rat that could speak ; and Chips the 
grandfather had sold himself to the Devil for an iron pot 
and a bushel of tenpenny nails and half a ton of copper 
and a rat that could speak ; and Chips the great-grand- 
father had disposed of himself in the same direction on 
the same terms; and the bargain had rim in the family 
for a long long time. So, one day when young Chips 
was at work in the Dock Slip all alone, down in the dark 

q2 



228 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

hold of an old Seventy-four that was haled up for re- 
pairs, the Devil presented himself, and remarked : 

" A Lemon has pips, 
And a Yard has ships, 
And J'll have Chips !" 

(I don't know why, but this fact of the Devil's expressing 

himself in rhyme was peculiarly trying to me.) Chips 

looked up when he heard the words, and there he saw the 

Devil with saucer eyes that squinted on a terrible great 

scale, and that struck out sparks of blue fire continually. 

And whenever he winked his eyes, showers of blue sparks 

came out, and his eyelashes made a clattering Hke flints 

and steels striking Hghts. And hanging over one of his 

arms by the handle was an iron pot, and under that arm 

was a bushel of tenpenny nails, and under his other arm 

was half a ton of copper, and sitting on one of his 

shoulders was a rat that could speak. So, the Devil 

said again : 

" A Lemon has pips, 
And a Yard has ships, 
And J'll have Chips !" 

(The invariable effect of this alarming tautology on the 
part of the Evil Spirit was to deprive me of my senses 
for some moments.) So, Chips answered never a word, 
but went on with his work. "What are you doing, 
Chips?" said the rat that could speak. "I am putting 
in new planks where you and your gang have eaten old 
away," said Chips. " But we'll eat them too," said the 
rat that could speak ; " and we'll let in the water and 



CHIPS'S BARGAIN. 229 

dro^^Tl the crew, and we'll eat them too." Chips, being 
only a shipwright, and not a Man-of-war's man, said, 
"You are welcome to it." But he couldn't keep his 
eyes off the half a ton of copper or the bushel of ten- 
penny nails; for nails and copper are a shipwright's 
sweethearts, and shipwrights will run away with them 
whenever they can. So, the Devil said, " I see what you 
are looking at. Chips. You had better strike the bar- 
gain. You know the terms. Your father before you 
was well acquainted with them, and so were your grand- 
father and great-grandfather before him." Says Chips,. 
"I like the copper, and I like the nails, and I don't mind 
the pot, but I don't like the rat." Says the Devil, fiercely,, 
"You can't have the metal without him — and he^s a^ 
curiosity. I'm going." Chips, afraid of losing the half 
a ton of copper and the bushel of nails, then said, " Give 
us hold ! " So, he got the copper and the nails and the 
pot and the rat that could speak, and the Devil vanished. 
Chips sold the copper, and he sold the nails, and he would 
have sold the pot ; but whenever he offered it for sale, 
the rat was in it, and the dealers dropped it, and would 
have nothing to say to the bargain. So, Chips resolved 
to kill the rat, and, being at work in the Yard one day 
with a great kettle of hot pitch on one side of him and 
the iron pot with the rat in it on the other, he turned the 
scalding pitch into the pot, and filled it full. Then, he 
kept his eye upon it till it cooled and hardened, and then 
he let it stand for twenty days, and then he heated the 
pitch again and turned it back into the kettle, and then 
he sank the pot in water for twenty days more, and then 



230 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

he got the smelters to put it in the furnace for twenty 
days more, and then they gave it him out, red hot, and 
looking hke red-hot glass instead of iron — yet there was 
the rat in it, just the same as ever ! And the moment it 
caught his eye, it said with a jeer : 

" A Lemon has pips, 
And a Yard has ships, 
And J'll have Chips!" 

(For this Refrain I had waited since its last appearance, 
with inexpressible horror, which now culminated.) Chips 
now felt certain in his own mind that the rat would stick 
to him ; the rat, answering his thought, said, " I will — 
like pitch ! " 

Now, as the rat leaped out of the pot when it had 
spoken, and made off. Chips began to hope that it 
wouldn't keep its word. But, a terrible thing happened 
next day. For, when dinner-time came and the Dock- 
bell rang to strike work, he put his rule into the long 
pocket at the side of his trousers, and there he found a 
rat — not that rat, but another rat. And in his hat, he 
found another ; and in his pocket-handkerchief, another ; 
and in the sleeves of his coat, when he pidled it on to go 
to dinner, two more. And from that time he found him- 
self so frightfully intimate with all the rats in the Yard, 
that they climbed up his legs when he was at work, and 
sat on his tools while he used them. And they could all 
speak to one another, and he understood what they said. 
And they got into his lodging, and into his bed, and into 
his teapot, and into his beer, and into his boots. And he 



CHIPS AND THE RATS. 231 

was going to be married to a corn-chancQer's daughter ; 
and when he gave her a workbox he had himself made 
for her, a rat jumped out of it ; and when he put his arm 
round her waist, a rat clung about her ; so the marriage 
was broken off, though the banns were already twice put 
up — which the parish cletk well remembers, for, as he 
handed the book to the clergyman for the second time of 
asking, a large fat rat ran over the leaf. (By this time 
a special cascade of rats was rolHng down my back, and 
the whole of my small listening person was overrun with 
them. At intervals ever smce, I have been morbidly 
afraid of my own pocket, lest my exploring hand should 
find a specimen or two of those vermin in it.) 

You may believe that all this was very terrible to 
Chips ; but even all this was not the worst. He knew 
besides, what the rats were doing, wherever they were. 
So, sometimes he would cry aloud, when he was at his 
club at night, " Oh ! Keep the rats out of the convicts' 
burying-groimd ! Don't let them do that ! " Or, " There's 
one of them at the cheese down stairs ! " Or, " There's 
two of them smelling at the baby in the garret ! " Or, 
other things of that sort. At last, he was voted mad, 
and lost his work in the Yard, and could get no other 
rvork. But, King George wanted men, so before very- 
long he got pressed for a sailor. And so he was taken 
off in a boat one evening to his ship, lying at Spithead, 
ready to sail. And so the first thing he made out in her 
as he got near her, was the figure-head of the old Seventy- 
foui', where he had seen the De\dl. She was called the 
Argonaut, and they rowed right under the bowsprit where 



232 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

the figure-head of the Argonaut, with a sheepskin in his 
hand and a blue gown on, was looking out to sea ; and 
sitting staring on his forehead was the rat who could 
speak, and his exact words were these : " Chips ahoy ! 
Old boy! We've pretty well eat them too, and we'll 
drown the crew, and will eat them too !" (Here I always 
became exceedingly faint, and would have asked for 
water, but that I was speechless.) 

The ship was bound for the Indies ; and if you don't 
know where that is, you ought to it, and angels will 
never love you. (Here I felt myself an outcast from a 
future state.) The ship set sail that very night, and 
she sailed, and sailed, and sailed. Chips's feelings were 
dreadful. Nothing ever equalled his terrors. No wonder. 
At last, one day he asked leave to speak to the Admiral. 
The Admiral giv' leave. Chips went down on his knees 
in the Great State Cabin. '^ Your Honour, unless your 
Honour, without a moment's loss of time makes sail for 
the nearest shore, this is a doomed ship, and her name is 
the Coffin ! " " Young man, your words are a madman's 
words." " Your Honour no ; they are nibbling us away." 
" They 1 " " Your Honour, them dreadful rats. Dust 
and hollo^vness where solid oak ought to be ! Rats nib- 
bling a grave for every man on board ! Oh ! Does 
your Honour love your Lady and your pretty children ? " 
"Yes, my man, to be sure." "Then, for God's sake^ 
make for the nearest shore, for at this present moment 
the rats are all stopping in their work, and are all look- 
ing straight towards you with bare teeth, and are all 
saying to one another that you shall never, never, never, 



CHIPS XST> THE ADMIRAL. 233 

never, see your Lady and your children more." "My 
poor fellow, you are a case for the doctor. Sentry, take 
care of this man ! " 

So, he was bled and he was blistered, and he was this 
and that, for six whole days and nights. So, then he 
again asked leave to speak to the Admiral. The Admiral 
giv' leave. He went down on his knees in the Great 
State Cabin. " Now, Admiral, you must die ! Yovi took 
no warning ; you must die ! The rats are never wTong 
in their calculations, and they make out that they'll be 
through, at twelve to-night. So, you must die ! — With 
me and all the rest ! " And so at twelve o'clock there 
was a great leak reported in the ship, and a torrent of 
water rushed in and nothing could stop it, and they all 
went down, every hvuig soul. And what the rats — being 
water-rats — left of Chips, at last floated to shore, and 
sitting on him was an immense overgrown rat, laughing, 
that dived when the corpse touched the beach and never 
came up. And there was a deal of seaweed on the re- 
mains. And if you get thirteen bits of seaweed, and dry 
them and bum them in the fire, they will go off like in 
these thirteen words as plain as plain can be : 

" A Lemon has pips, 
And a Yard has ships, 
And J've got Chips !" 

The same female bard — descended, possibly, from those 
terrible old Scalds who seem to have existed for the ex- 
press purpose of addling the brams of mankind when 
they begin to investigate languages — ^made a standing 



234 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

pretence which greatly assisted in forcing me back to a 
number of hideous places that I would by all means 
have avoided. This pretence was, that all her ghost 
stories had occurred to her own relations. Politeness 
towards a meritorious family, therefore forbade my 
doubting them, and they acquired an air of authentica- 
tion that impaired my digestive powers for hfe. There 
was a narrative concerning an unearthly animal fore- 
boding death, which appeared in the open street to a 
parlour-maid who " went to fetch the beer^' for supper : 
first (as I now recal it) assuming the Hkeness of a black 
dog, and gradually rising on its hind-legs and swelling 
into the semblance of some quadruped greatly surpassing 
a hippopotamus : which apparition — not because I deemed 
it in the least improbable, but because I felt it to be 
really too large to bear — I feebly endeavoured to explain 
away. But, on Mercy's retorting with wounded dignity 
that the parlour-maid was her own sister-in-law, I per- 
ceived there was no hope, and resigned myself to this 
zoological phenomenon as one of my many pursuers. 
There was another narrative describing the apparition of 
a young woman who came out of a glass-case and 
haunted another young woman until the other young 
woman questioned it and elicited that its bones (Lord ! 
To think of its being so particular about its bones !) 
were buried under the glass-case, whereas she required 
them to be interred, with every Undertaking solemnity 
up to twenty-four pound ten, in another particular place. 
This narrative I considered I had a personal interest in 
disproving, because we had glass-cases at home, and how, 



UNREASONABLE REQUEST. 235 

otherwise, was I to be guaranteed from the intrusion of 
young women requiring me to bury them up to twenty- 
four pound ten, when I had only twopence a week? 
But my remorseless nurse cut the ground from under 
my tender feet, by informing me that She was the other 
yoimg woman ; and I couldn't say " I don't believe 
you ;" it was not possible. 

Such are a few of the uncommercial jom^neys that I 
was forced to make, against my will, when I was very 
young and unreasoning. And really, as to the latter 
part of them, it is not so very long ago — ^now I come to 
think of it — that I was asked to undertake them once 
again, with a steady countenance. 



236 THE UNC03IJIERCIAL TRAYELLER. 



XVI. 



ARCADIAN LONDON. 



Being in a humour for complete solitude and uninter- 
rupted meditation this autumn^ I have taken a lodging 
for six weeks in the most unfrequented part of England 
— in a word, in London. 

The retreat into which I have withdrawn myself, is 
Bond-street. From this lonely spot I make pilgrimages 
into the surrounding wilderness, and traverse extensive 
• tracts of the Great Desert. The first solemn feeling of 
isolation overcome, the first oppressive consciousness of 
profound retirement conquered, I enjoy that sense of 
freedom, and feel reviving within me that latent wild- 
ness of the original savage, whiph has been (upon the 
whole somewhat frequently) noticed by Travellers. 

My lodgings are at a hatter's — my own hatter's. After 
exhibiting no articles in his window for some weeks, but 
sea-side wide-awakes, shooting-caps, and a choice of 
rough waterproof head-gear for the moors and mountains, 
he has put upon the heads of his family as much of this 
stock as they could carry, and has taken them off to the 
Isle of Thanet. His young man alone remains — and 



A VOLUNTEER. 237 

remains alone — in the shop. The young man has let 
out tl>c fire at which the irons are heated, and, saving his 
strono- sense of duty, I see no reason why he should take 
the shutters do^\^l. 

Happily for himself and for his country, the young 
man is a Volunteer ; most happily for himself, or I 
think he would become the prey of a settled melancholy. 
For, to live surromided by human hats, and alienated 
from human heads to fit them on, is surely a great en- 
durance. But, the yomig man, sustained by practising 
his exercise, and by constantly furbishing up his regula- 
tion plmne (it is unnecessary to observe that, as a hatter, 
he is in a cock's-feather corps), is resigned, and micom- 
plaining. On a Satm^day, when he closes early and gets 
his Knickerbockers on, he is even cheerful. I am grate- 
fully particular in this reference to -him, because he is 
my companion through many peaceful hours. My hatter 
has a desk up certain steps behind his counter, enclosed 
like the clerk's desk at Chiuxh. I shut myself into this 
place of seclusion, after breakfast, and meditate. At 
such times, I observe the young man loading an ima- 
ginary rifle ^vith the greatest precision, and maintaining 
a most galling and destructive fire upon the national 
enemy. I thank him publicly for his companionship and 
his patriotism. 

The simple character of my hfe, and the calm nature 
of the scenes by which I am surrounded, occasion me to 
rise early. I go forth in my slippers, and promenade 
the pavement. It is pastoral to feel the freshness of the 
air in the uninhabited town, and to appreciate the shep- 



238 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

herdess character of the few milkwomen who purvey so 
little milk that it would be worth nobody's while to adul- 
terate it, if anybody were left to undertake the task. 
On the crowded sea-shore, the great demand for milk, 
combined with the strong local temptation of chalk, 
would betray itself in the lowered quahty of the article. 
In Arcadian London, I derive it from the cow. 

The Arcadian simplicity of the metropolis altogether, 
and the primitive ways into which it has fallen in this 
autumnal Golden Age, make it entirely new to me. 
Within a few hundred yards of my retreat, is the house 
of a friend who maintains a most sumptuous butler. I 
never, until yesterday, saw that butler out of superfine 
black broadcloth. Until yesterday, I never saw him off 
duty, never saw him (he is the best of butlers) with the 
appearance of having any mind for anything but the 
glory of his master and his master's friends. Yesterday 
morning, walking in my shppers near the house of which 
he is the prop and ornament — a house now a waste of 
shutters — I encountered that butler, also in his shppers, 
and in a shooting suit of one colour, and in a low- 
crowned straw hat, smoking an early cigar. He felt that 
we had formerly met in another state of existence, and 
that we were translated into a new sphere. Wisely and 
well, he passed me without recognition. Under his arm 
he carried the morning paper, and shortly afterwards I 
saw him sitting on a rail in the pleasant open landscape 
of Regent-street, perusing it at his ease under the ripen- 
ing sun. 

My landlord having taken his whole estabhshment to 



MR. AND MRS. KLEM. 239 

be salted down, I am waited on by an elderly woman 
labouring under a chronic sniffy who^ at the shadowy 
hour of half-past nine o'clock of every evening, gives 
admittance at the street door to a meagre and mouldy 
old man whom I have never yet seen detached from a 
flat pint of beer in a pewter pot. The meagre and 
mouldy old man is her husband, and the pair have a de- 
jected consciousness that they are not justified in appear- 
ing on the surface of the earth. They come out of some 
hole when London empties itself, and go in again when 
it fills. I saw them arrive on the evening when I my- 
self took possession, and they arrived with the flat pint 
of beer, and their bed in a bundle. The old man is a 
weak old man, and appeared to me to get the bed down 
the kitchen stairs by tumbHng down with and upon it. 
They make their bed in the lowest and remotest corner 
of the basement, and they smell of bed, and have no 
possession but bed : unless it be (which I rather infer 
from an under-current of flavour in them) cheese. I 
know their name, through the chance of having called 
the wife's attention, at half -past nine on the second even- 
ing of our acquaintance, to the circumstance of there 
being some one at the house door; when she apolo- 
getically explained, " It's on'y Mr. Klem." What be- 
comes of Mr. E^em all day, or when he goes out, or why, 
is a mystery I cannot penetrate ; but at half-past nine he 
never fails to turn up on the door-step with the flat pmt 
of beer. And the pint of beer, flat as it is, is so 
much more important than himself, that it always seems 
to my fancy as if it had found him drivelling in the 



240 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

street and liad humanely brought him home. In making 
his way below, Mr. Klem never goes down the middle 
of the passage, like another Christian, but shuffles against 
the wall as if entreating me to take notice that he is oc- 
cupying as little space as possible in the house; and 
whenever I come upon him face to face, he backs from 
me in fascinated confusion. The most extraordinary 
circumstance I have traced in connexion with this aged 
couple, is, that there is a Miss Klem, their daughter, ap- 
parently ten years older than either of them, who has 
also a bed and smells of it, and carries it about the earth 
at dusk and hides it in deserted houses. I came into 
this piece of knowledge through Mrs. Klem's beseeching 
me to sanction the sheltering of Miss Klem under 
that roof for a single night, " between her takin' care 
of the upper part in Pall Mall which the family of 
his back, and a 'ouse in Serjameses-street, which the 
family of leaves towng termorrer." I gave my gra- 
cious consent (having nothing that I know of to do with 
it), and in the shadowy hours Miss Klem became per- 
ceptible on the door-step, A^Testling with a bed in a 
bundle. Where she made it up for the night I cannot 
positively state, but, I think, in a sink. I know that 
with the instinct of a reptile or an insect, she stowed it 
and herself away in deep obscurity. In the Klem family, 
I have noticed another remarkable gift of nature, and 
that is a power they possess of converting everything into 
flue. Such broken victuals as they take by stealth, ap- 
pear (whatever the nature of the viands) invariably to 
generate flue ; and even the nightly pint of beer, instead 



SOLEMN IU3IBLES. 241 

of assimilating natui'ally, strikes me as breaking out in 
that form, equally on the shabby gown of Mrs. Klem, 
and the threadbare coat of her husband. 

IVIi's. Klem has no idea of my name — as to Mr. Klem^ 
he has no idea of anything — and only knows me as her 
good gentleman. Thus, if doubtful whether I am in my 
room or no, ^Irs. Klem taps at the door and says, " Is 
my good gentleman here?" Or, if a messenger desiring 
to see me were consistent with my solitude, she w^ould 
show him in with " Here is my good gentleman." I 
find this to be a generic custom. For, I meant to have 
observ^ed before now, that in its Arcadian time all my 
part of London is indistinctly pervaded by the Klem 
species. They creep about mth beds, and go to bed in 
miles of deserted houses. They hold no companionship, 
except that sometimes, after dark, two of them \Ndll 
emerge from opposite houses, and meet in the middle of 
the road as on neutral ground, or will peep from adjoin- 
ing houses over an interposing barrier of area railings, 
and compare a few reserved mistrustful notes respecting 
their good ladies or good gentlemen. This I have dis- 
covered in the course of various solitary rambles I have 
taken Northward from my retu'ement, along the awful 
perspectives of Wimpole-street, Harley-street, and simi- 
lar froTVTiing regions. Their effect would be scarcely 
distinguishable from that of the primeval forests, but for 
the Hem stragglers ; these may be dimly observed, when 
the heavy shadows fall, flitting to and fro, putting up 
the door-chain, taking in the pint of beer, lowering like 
phantoms at the dark parlour windows, or secretly con- 



242 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

sorting nndergroiind wath the dust-bin and the water- 
cistern. 

In the Burlington Arcade, I observe, with peculiar 
pleasiu*e, a primitive state of manners to have superseded 
the baneful influences of ultra civilisation. Nothing can 
surpass the innocence of the ladies' shoe-shops, the arti- 
ficial flower repositories, and the head-dress depots. They 
are in strange hands at this time of year — hands of un- 
accustomed persons, who are imperfectly acquainted with 
the prices of the goods, and contemplate them vrith un- 
sophisticated delight and wonder. The children of these 
virtuous people exchange f amiUarities in the Arcade, and 
temper the asperity of the two tall beadles. Their youth- 
ful prattle blends in an imwonted manner with the 
harmonious shade of the scene, and the general effect is, 
as of the voices of birds in a grove. In this happy resto- 
ration of the golden time, it has been my privilege even 
to see the bigger beadle's wife. She brought him his 
dinner in a basin, and he ate it in his arm-chair, and 
afterwards fell asleep like a satiated child. At Mr. 
Truefitt's, the excellent hairdresser's, they are learning 
French to beguile the time ; and even the few solitaries 
left on guard at Mr. Atkinson's, the perfumer's round 
the comer (generally the most inexorable gentlemen in 
London, and the most scornful of three-and-sixpence), 
condescend a httle as they drowsily bide or recal their 
turn for chasing the ebbing Neptune on the ribbed sea- 
sand. From Messrs. Himt and Eoskell's, the jewellers, 
all things are absent but the precious stones, and the gold 
and silver, and the soldierly pensioner at the door with 



OUT OF WORK. 243 

his decorated breast. I might stand night and day for a 
month to come, in Sa\dlle-row, with my tongue out, yet 
not find a doctor to look at it for love or money. The 
dentists' instruments are rusting in their drawers, and 
their horrible cool parlours, where people pretend to read 
the Every-Day Book and not to be afraid, are doing 
penance for their grimness in white sheets. The light- 
weight of shrewd appearance, with one eye always shut 
up, as if he were eating a sharp gooseberry in all seasons, 
who usually stands at the gateway of the Hvery stables on 
very little legs under a very large waistcoat, has gone to 
Doncaster. Of such imdesigning aspect is his guileless 
Yard now, with its gravel and scarlet beans, and the 
yellow Break housed imder a glass roof m a comer, that 
I almost believe I could not be taken in there, if I tried. 
In the places of business of the great tailors, the cheval- 
glasses are dim and dusty for lack of being looked into. 
Ranges of brown paper coat and waistcoat bodies look as 
f imereal as if they were the hatchments of the customers 
with whose names they are inscribed; the measuring 
tapes hang idle on the wall ; the order-taker, left on the 
hopeless chance of some one looking in, yawns in the last 
extremity over the books of patterns, as if he were trying 
to read that entertaining library. The hotels in Brook- 
street have no one in them, and the staffs of servants 
stare disconsolately for next season out of all the windows. 
The very man who goes about like an erect Turtle, be- 
tween two boards reconunendatory of the Sixteen Shilling 
Trousers, is aware of himself as a hollow mockery, and 
eats filberts while he leans his hinder shell against a wall. 

r2 



244 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

Among these tranquillising objects^ it is my delight to 
walk and meditate. Soothed by the repose around me, I 
wander insensibly to considerable distances, and guide 
myself back by the stars. Thus, I enjoy the contrast of 
a few still partially inhabited and busy spots where all 
the lights are not fled, where all the garlands are not 
dead, whence all but I have not departed. Then, does it 
appear to me that in this age three things are clamorously 
required of Man in the miscellaneous thoroughfares of 
the metropolis. Firstly, that he have his boots cleaned. 
Secondly, that he eat a penny ice. Thirdly, that he get 
himself photographed. Then do I speculate. What have 
those seam-worn artists been who stand at the photograph 
doors in Greek caps, sample in hand, and mysteriously 
salute the public — ^the female public with a pressing 
tenderness — ^to come in and be " took " ? What did they 
do with their greasy blandishments, before the era of 
cheap photography ? Of what class were their previous 
victims, and how victimised ? And how did they get, and 
how did they pay for, that large collection of likenesses, 
all purporting to have been taken inside, with the taking 
of none of which had that establishment any more to do 
than with the taking of Delhi ? 

But, these are small oases, and I am soon back again in 
metropolitan Arcadia. It is my impression that much of 
its serene and peaceful character is attributable to the 
absence of customary Talk. How do I know but there 
may be subtle influences in Talk, to vex the souls of men 
who don't hear it ? How do I know but that Talk, five, 
ten, twenty miles off, may get into the air and disagree with 



TALK. 245 

me ? If I rise from my bed, vaguely troubled and wearied 
and sick of my life, in the session of Parliament, who 
shall say that my noble friend, my right reverend friend, 
my right honourable friend, my honourable friend, my 
honourable and learned friend, or my honourable and 
gallant friend, may not be responsible for that effect 
upon my nervous system ? Too much Ozone in the air, 
I am informed and fully believe (though I have no idea 
what it is), would affect me in a marvellously disagree- 
able way ; why may not too much Talk ? I don't see or 
hear the Ozone; I don't see or hear the Talk. And 
there is so much Talk; so much too much; such loud 
cry, and such scant supply of wool ; such a deal of 
fleecing, and so little fleece ! Hence, in the Arcadian 
season, T find it a dehcious triumph to walk down to de- 
serted Westminster, and see the Courts shut up ; to walk 
a little further and see the Two Houses shut up; to 
stand in the Abbey Yard, like the New Zealander of the 
grand Enghsh History (concerning which unfortunate 
man, a whole rookery of mares' nests is generally being dis- 
covered), and gloat upon the ruins of Talk. Returning 
to my primitive sohtude and lying down to sleep, my 
grateful heart expands Avith the consciousness that there 
is no adjourned Debate, no ministerial explanation, 
nobody to give notice of intention to ask the noble Lord 
at the head of her Majesty's Government five-and-twenty 
bootless questions in one, no term time with legal argu- 
ment, no Nisi Prius with eloquent appeal to British 
Jury; that the air will to-morrow, and to-morrow, and 
to-morrow, remain untroubled by this superabundant 



246 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

generating of Talk. In a minor degree it is a delicious 
triumpli to me to go into the club, and see the carpets up, 
aud the Bores and the other dust dispersed to the four 
winds. Again New Zealander-like, I stand on the cold 
hearth, and say in the solitude, " Here I watched Bore 
A 1, with voice always mysteriously low and head always 
mysteriously drooped, whispering political secrets into 
the ears of Adam's confiding children. Accursed be his 
memory for ever and a day ! " 

But, I have all this time been coming to the point, that 
the happy nature of my retirement is most sweetly ex- 
pressed in its being the abode of Love. It is, as it were, 
an inexpensive Agapemone : nobody's speculation : every- 
body's profit. The one great result of the resumption of 
primitive habits, and (convertible terms) the not having 
much to do, is, the abounding of Love. 

The Klem species are incapable of the softer emotions ; 
probably, in that low nomadic race, the softer emotions 
have all degenerated into flue. But, with this exception, 
all the sharers of my retreat make love. 

I have mentioned Saville-row. We all know the 
Doctor's servant. We all know what a respectable man 
he is, what a hard dry man, what a firm man, what a 
confidential man : how he lets us into the waiting-room, 
like a man who knows minutely what is the matter with 
us, but from whom the rack should not wring the secret. 
In the prosaic " season," he has distinctly the appearance 
of a man conscious of money in the savings bank, and 
taking his stand on his respectability with both feet. At 
that time it is as impossible to associate him with relaxa- 



dentists' and doctors' servants. 241 

tion, or any human weakness, as it is to meet liis eye 
witliout feeKng guilty of indisposition. In the blest Ar- 
cadian time, how changed ! I have seen him, in a pepper- 
and-salt jacket — jacket — and drab trousers, with his arm 
round the waist of a bootmaker's housemaid, smiUng in 
open day. I have seen him at the pump by the Albany, 
unsolicitedly pumping for two fair young creatures, whose 
figures as they bent over their cans, were — if I may be 
allowed an original expression — a model for the sculptor. 
I have seen him trying the piano in the Doctor's drawing- 
room with his forefinger, and have heard him humming 
tunes in praise of lovely woman. I have seen him seated 
on a fire-engine, and going (obviously in search of excite- 
ment) to a fire. I saw him, one moonlight evening when 
the peace and purity of our Arcadian west were at their 
height, polk with the lovely daughter of a cleaner of 
gloves, from the door-steps of his own residence, across 
Saville-row, round by Clifford-street and Old Burlington- 
street, back to Burlington-gardens. Is this the Golden 
Age revived, or Iron London ? 

The Dentist's servant. Is that man no mystery to us, 
no type of invisible power ? The tremendous individual 
knows (who else does ?) what is done with the extracted 
teeth ; he knows what goes on in the Httle room where 
something is always being washed or filed; he knows 
what warm spicy infusion is put into the comfortable 
tumbler from which we rinse our wounded mouth, with 
a gap in it that feels a foot wide ; he knows whether the 
thing we spit into is a fixture communicating with the 
Thames, or could be cleared away for a dance ; he sees 



248 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLED. 

the horrible parlour when there are no patients in it, and 
he could reveal, if he would, what becomes of the- Every- 
Day Book then. The conviction of my coward conscience 
when I see that man in a professional light, is, that he 
knows all the statistics of my teeth and gums, my double 
teeth, my single teeth, my stopped teeth, and my sound. 
In this Arcadian rest, I am fearless of him as of a harm- 
less powerless creature in a Scotch cap, who adores a 
yoimg lady in a voluminous crinohne, at a neighbouring 
biUiard-room, and whose passion would be unmfluenced 
if every one of her teeth were false. They may be. 
He takes them all on trust. 

In secluded comers of the place of my seclusion, there 
are Kttle shops withdrawn from pubHc curiosity, and 
never two together, w^here servants' perquisites are 
bought. The cook may dispose of grease at these mo- 
dest and convenient marts; the butler, of bottles; the 
valet and lady's maid, of clothes ; most servants, indeed, 
of most things they may happen to lay hold of. I have 
been told that in sterner times lo\dng correspondence 
otherwise interdicted may be maintained by letter 
through the agency of some of these useful establish- 
ments. In the Arcadian autumn, no such device is 
necessary. Everybody loves, and openly and blame- 
lessly loves. My landlord's young man loves the whole 
of one side of the way of old Bond-street, and is be- 
loved several doors up new Bond-street besides. I never 
look out of mndow but I see kissing of hands going on 
all around me. It is the morning custom to ghde from 
shop to shop and exchange tender sentiments ; it is the 
evening custom for couples to stand hand in hand at 



GOLDEN AGE NOT LASTING. 249 

house doors, or roam, linked in that flowery manner, 
through the unpeopled streets. There is nothing else to 
do but love ; and what there is to do, is done. 

In imison with this pursuit, a chaste simplicity ob- 
tains m the domestic habits of Arcadia. Its few scat- 
tered people dine early, live moderately, sup socially, 
and sleep soundly. It is rumoured that the Beadles of 
the Arcade, from being the mortal enemies of boys, 
have signed wath tears an address to Lord Shaftesbiuy, 
and subscribed to a ragged school. No wonder ! For, 
they might turn their heavy maces into crooks and tend 
sheep in the Arcade, to the purling of the water-carts as 
they give the thirsty streets much more to drink than 
they can carry. 

A happy Golden Age, and a serene tranquilhty. 
Charming picture, but it will fade. The iron age will 
return, London will come back to town, if I show my 
tongue then m Saville-row for half a minute I shall be 
prescribed for, the Doctor's man and the Dentist's man 
will then pretend that these days of unprofessional inno- 
cence never existed. Where ^Ir. and Mrs. Klem and 
their bed will be at that time, passes human knowledge ; 
but, my hatter hermitage will then know them no more, 
nor mil it then know me. The desk at which I have 
written these meditations will retributively assist at the 
making out of my account, and the wheels of gorgeous 
carriages and the hoofs of high-stepping horses will 
crush the silence out of Bond-street — will grind Ar- 
cadia away, and give it to the elements in granite 
powder. 



250 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 



xvn. 



THE ITALIAN PRISONER. 



The rising of the Italian people from under their un- 
utterable wrongs, and the tardy burst of day upon them 
after the long long night of oppression that has darkened 
their beautiful country, has naturally caused my mind to 
dwell often of late on my own small wanderings in Italy. 
Connected with them, is a curious httle drama, in which 
the character I myself sustained was so very subordinate, 
that I may relate its story without any fear of being sus- 
pected of self -display. It is strictly a true story. 

I am newly arrived one summer evening, in a certain 
small town on the Mediterranean. I have had my dinner 
at the inn, and I and the mosquitoes are coming out into 
the streets together. It is far from Naples ; but a bright 
brown plump little woman-servant at the inn, is a Nea- 
politan, and is so vivaciously expert in pantomimic action, 
that in the single moment of answering my request to 
have a pair of shoes cleaned which I have left up-stairs, 
she phes imaginary brushes, and goes completely through 
the motions of polishing the shoes up, and laying them 



GIOVANNI CARLAVERO. 251 

at my feet. I smile at the brisk little woman in perfect 
satisfaction with her briskness ; and the brisk little 
woman, amiably pleased with me because I am pleased 
with her, claps her hands and laughs dehghtfully. We 
are in the inn yard. As the little woman's bright eyes 
sparkle on the cigarette I am smoking I make bold to 
offer her one; she accepts it none the less merrily, 
because I touch a most charming Httle dimple in her fat 
cheek, with its Ught paper end. Glancing up at the 
many green lattices to assure herself that the mistress is 
not looking on, the Httle woman then puts her two little 
dimpled arms a-kimbo, and stands on tiptoe to light her 
cigarette at mine. " And now, dear httle sir," says she, 
puffing out smoke in a most innocent and Cherabic 
manner, "keep quite straight on, take the first to the 
right, and probably you will see him standing at his 
door." 

I have a commission to " him," and I have been in- 
quiring about him. I have carried the commission about 
Italy, several months. Before I left England, there 
came to me one night a certain generous and gentle 
English nobleman (he is dead in these days when I 
relate the story, and exiles have lost their best British 
friend), with this request : " Whenever you come to such 
a town, will you seek out one Giovanni Carlavero, who 
keeps a httle wine-shop there, mention my name to him 
suddenly, and observe how it affects him?" I accepted 
the trust, and am on my way to discharge it. 

The sirocco has been blowing all day, and it is a hot 
unwholesome evening with no cool sea-breeze. Mosqui- 



252 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

toes and fire-flies are lively enough, but most other crea- 
tures are faint. The coquettish airs of pretty young 
women in the tiniest and wickedest of dolls' straw hats, 
who lean out at opened lattice blinds, are almost the only 
airs stirring. Very ugly and haggard old women with 
distaffs, and with a grey tow upon them that looks as if 
they were spinning out their own hair (I suppose they 
were once pretty, too, but it is very difficult to beUeve 
so), sit on the footway leaning against house walls. 
Everybody who has come for water to the fountain, 
stays there, and seems incapable of any such energetic 
idea as going home. Vespers are over, though not so 
long but that I can smell the heavy resinous incense as I 
pass the church. No man seems to be at work, save the 
coppersmith. In an Italian town he is always at work, 
and always thumping in the deadliest manner. 

I keep straight on, and come in due time to the first on 
the right : a narrow dull street, where I see a well- 
favoured man of good stature and military bearing, in a 
great cloak, standing at a door. Drawing nearer to this 
threshold, I see it is the threshold of a small wine-shop ; 
and I can just make out, in the dim light, the inscription 
that it is kept by Giovanni Carlavero. 

I touch my hat to the figure in the cloak, and pass in, 
and draw a stool to a Httle table. The lamp (just such 
another as they dig out of Pompeii) is lighted, but the 
place is empty. The figm'e in the cloak has followed me 
in, and stands before me. 

"The master?" 

" At your service, sir." 



THE englishman's FRIEND. 253 

" Please to give me a glass of the wine of the country." 

He turns to a little counter, to get it. As his striking 
face is pale, and his action is evidently that of an en- 
feebled man, I remark that I fear he has been ill. It is 
not much, he courteously and gravely answers, though 
bad while it lasts : the fever. 

As he sets the wine on the little table, to his manifest 
surprise I lay my hand on the back of his, look him in 
the face, and say in a low voice : " I am an Englishman, 
and you are acquainted with a friend of mine. Do you 
recollect ?" and I mention the name of my gene- 
rous countryman. 

Instantly, he utters a loud cry, bursts into tears, and 
falls on his knees at my feet, clasping my legs in both 
his arms and bowing his head to the ground. 

Some years ago, this man at my feet, whose over- 
fraught heart is heaving as if it would burst from his 
breast, and whose tears are wet upon the dress I wear, 
was a galley-slave in the North of Italy. He was a 
pohtical offender, having been concerned in the then last 
rising, and was sentenced to imprisonment for Hfe. That 
he would have died in his chains, is certain, but for the 
circumstance that the Englishman happened to visit his 
prison. 

It was one of the vile old prisons of Italy, and a part 
of it was below the waters of the harbour. The place of 
his confinement was an arched underground and under- 
water gallery, with a grill-gate at the entrance, through 
which it received such light and air as it got. Its con- 
dition was insufferably foul, and a stranger could hardly 



254 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELIiER. 

breathe in it, or see in it with the aid of a torch. At the 
upper end of this dungeon, and consequently in the 
worst position, as being the furthest removed from light 
and air, the Englishman first beheld him, sitting on an 
iron bedstead to which he was chained by a heavy chain. 
His countenance impressed the Englishman as having 
nothing in common mth the faces of the malefactors 
with whom he was associated, and he talked with him, 
and learnt how he came to be there. 

When the Enghshman emerged from the dreadful 
den into the light of day, he asked his conductor, the 
governor of the jail, why Giovanni Carlavero was put 
into the worst place ? 

"Because he is particularly reconunended," was the 
stringent answer. z 

" Recommended, that is to say, for death?" 

" Excuse me ; particularly recommended," was again 
the answer. 

" He has a bad tumour in his neck, no -doubt occa- 
sioned by the hardship of his miserable Hfe. If it con- 
tinues to be neglected^ and he remains where he is, it 
wiU kiU hun." 

" Excuse me, I can do nothing. He is particularly 
recommended." 

The Enghshman was staying in that town, and he 
went to his home there ; but the figure of this man 
chained to the bedstead made it no home, and destroyed 
his rest and peace. He was an Englishman of an ex- 
traordinarily tender heart, and he could not bear the 
picture. He went back to the prison grate ; went hsick 



QUIXOTIC. 255 

again and again, and talked to the man and cheered him. 
He used his utmost influence to get the man unchained 
from the bedstead, were it only for ever so short a time 
in the day, and permitted to come to the grate. It took 
a long time, but the Englishman's station, personal cha- 
racter, and steadiness of purpose, wore out opposition so 
far, and that grace was at last accorded. Through the 
bars, when he could thus get light upon the tumour, the 
EngHshman lanced it, and it did well, and healed. His 
strong interest in the prisoner had greatly increased by 
this time, and he formed the desperate resolution that he 
would exert his utmost self-devotion and use his utmost 
efforts, to get Carlavero pardoned. 

If the prisoner had been a brigand and a murderer, if 
he had committed every non-pohtical crime in the New- 
gate Calendar and out of it, nothing would have been 
easier than for a man of any court or priestly influence 
to obtain his release. As it was, nothing could have been 
more difiicult. Italian authorities, and English authori- 
ties who had interest with them, alike assured the Eng- 
lishman that his object was hopeless. He met with no- 
thing but evasion, refusal, and ridicule. His political 
prisoner became a joke in the place. It was especially 
observable that English Circumlocution, and EngHsh 
Society on its travels, were as humorous on the subject 
as Circumlocution and Society may be on any subject 
without loss of caste. But, the EngUshman possessed 
(and proved it well in his life) a courage very uncommon 
among us : he had not the least fear of being considered 
a bore, in a good humane cause. So he went on persist- 



256 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

ently trying, and trying, and trying, to get Giovanni 
Carlavero out. That prisoner had been rigorously re- 
chained, after the tumour operation, and it was not hkely 
that his miserable life could last very long. 

One day, when all the to^vn knew about the EngUsh- 
man and his political prisoner, there came to the English- 
man, a certain sprightly Italian Advocate of whom he 
had some knowledge ; and he made this strange proposal. 
^' Give me a hundred pounds to obtain Carlavero's release. 
I think I can get him a pardon, with that money. But 
I cannot tell you what I am going to do with the money, 
nor must you ever ask me the question if I succeed, nor 
must you ever ask me for an account of the money if I 
fail." The Englishman decided to hazard the hundred 
pounds. He did so, and heard not another word of the 
matter. For half a year and more, the Advocate made 
no sign, and never once '' took on" in any way, to have 
the subject on his mind. The EngHshman was then 
obhged to change his residence to another and more 
famous tomi in the North of Italy. He parted from 
the poor prisoner with a sorrowful heart, as from a 
doomed man for whom there was no release but Death. 

The Englishman lived in his new place of abode an- 
other half-year and more, and had no tidings of the 
wretched prisoner. At length, one day, he received from 
the Advocate a cool concise mysterious note, to this effect. 
" If you still wish to bestow that benefit upon the man in 
whom you were once interested, send me fifty pounds 
more, and I think it can be ensured." Now, the English- 
man had long settled in his mind that the Advocate 



LETTER FOR THE POST. 257 

was a heartless sharper, who had preyed upon his cre- 
duhty and his interest in an unfortunate sufferer. So, 
he sat down and wrote a dry answer, giving the Advocate 
to understand that he was wiser now than he had been 
formerly, and that no more money was extractable from 
his pocket. 

He lived outside the city gates, some mile or two from 
the post-office, and was accustomed to walk into the city 
with his letters and post them himself. On a lovely 
spring day, when the sky was exquisitely blue, and the 
sea Di\anely beautiful, he took his usual walk, carrying 
this letter to the Advocate in his pocket. As he went 
along, his gentle heart was much moved by the loveliness 
of the prospect,' and by the thought of the slowly- dying 
prisoner chained to the bedstead, for whom the universe 
had no delights. As he drew nearer and nearer to the 
city where he was to post the letter, he became very 
uneasy in his mind. He debated with himself, was it 
remotely possible, after all, that this sum of fifty poimds 
could restore the fellow-creature whom he pitied so much, 
and for whom he had striven so hard, to liberty ? He 
was not a conventionally rich Englishman — very far 
from that — but, he had a spare fifty pounds at the 
banker's. He resolved to risk it. Without doubt, God 
has recompensed him for the resolution. 

He went to the banker's, and got a bill for the amount, 
and enclosed it in a letter to the Advocate that I wish I 
could have seen. He simply told the Advocate that he 
was quite a poor man, and that he was sensible it might 
be a great weakness in him to part with so much money 

s 



258 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

on the faith of so vague a communication ; but, that 
there it was, and that he prayed the Advocate to make 
a good use of it. If he did otherwise no good could 
ever come of it, and it would he heavy on his soul one 
day. 

Within a week, the Englishman was sitting at his 
breakfast, when he heard some suppressed soimds of 
agitation on the staircase, and Giovanni Carlavero leaped 
into the room and fell upon his breast, a free man ! 

Conscious of having wronged the Advocate in his own 
thoughts, the Englishman wrote him an earnest and 
grateful letter, avomng the fact, and entreating him to 
confide by what means and through what agency he 
had succeeded so well. The Advocate returned for 
answer through the post. " There are many things, as 
you know, in this Italy of ours, that are safest and best 
not even spoken of — far less written of. We may meet 
some day, and then I may tell you what you want to 
know ; not here, and now." But, the two never did meet 
again. The Advocate was dead when the Englishman 
gave me my trust ; and how the man had been set free, 
remained as great a mystery to the Englishman, and to 
the man himself, as it was to me. 

But, I knew this : — here was the man, this sultry- 
night, on his knees at my feet, because I was the English- 
man's friend ; here were his tears upon my dress ; here 
were his sobs choking his utterance ; here were his kisses 
on my hands, because they had touched the hands that 
had worked out his release. He had no need to tell me 
it would be happiness to him to die for his benefactor ; 



THE BOTTLE. 259 

I dotibt if I ever saw real, sterling, fervent gratitude of 
soul, before or since. 

He was much watched and suspected, he said, and had 
had enouo-h to do to keep himself out of trouble. This, 
and his not having prospered in his worldly affairs, had 
led to his liaving failed in his usual communications to 
the Englishman for — as I now remember the period — 
some two or three years. But, his prospects were brighter, 
and his wife who had been very ill had recovered, and 
his fever had left him, and he had bought a little vine- 
yard, and would I carry to his benefactor the first of its 
wine ? Ay, that I would (I told him with enthusiasm), 
and not a drop of it should be spilled or lost ! 

He had cautiously closed the door before speaking of 
himself, and had talked with such excess of emotion, and 
in a provincial Italian so difficult to understand, that I 
had more than once been obliged to stop him, and beg 
him to have compassion on me and be slower and calmer. 
By degrees he became so, and tranquilly walked back 
with me to the hotel. There, I sat down before I went 
to bed and wrote a faithful account of him to the Eng- 
lishman: which I concluded by saying that I would 
bring the wine home, against any difficulties, every drop. 

Early next morning when I came out at the hotel 
door to pursue my journey, I found my friend waiting 
with one of those immense bottles in w^hich the Italian 
peasants store their wine — a bottle holding some half- 
dozen gallons — ^boimd round with basket-work for greater 
safety pn the journey. I see him now, in the bright sun- 
light, tears of gratitude in his eyes, proudly inviting my 



260 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

attention to this corpulent bottle. (At the street-corner 
hard by, two high-flavoured able-bodied monks — pre- 
tending to talk together, but keeping their four evil eyes 
upon us.) 

How the bottle had been got there, did not appear ; 
but, the difficulty of getting it into the ramshackle vet- 
turino carriage in which I was departing, was so great, 
and it took up so much room when it was got in, that I 
elected to sit outside. The last I saw of Giovanni Car- 
lavero was his running through the to^\Ti by the side of 
the jingling wheels, clasping my hand as I stretched it 
down from the box, charging me with a thousand last 
loving and dutiful messages to his dear patron, and finally 
looking in at the bottle as it reposed inside, with an ad- 
miration of its honourable way of travelling that was 
beyond measure delightful. 

And now, what disquiet of mind this dearly-beloved 
and highly-treasured Bottle began to cost me, no man 
knows. It w^as my precious charge tln'ough a long tour, 
and, for hundreds of miles, I never had it off my mind 
by day or by night. Over bad roads — and they were 
many — I clung to it with affectionate desperation. Up 
mountains, 1 looked in at it and saw it helplessly tilting 
over on its back, with terror. At innumerable inn doors 
when the weather was bad, I was obliged to be put into 
my vehicle before the Bottle could be got in, and was 
obliged to have the Bottle lifted out before hmuan aid 
could come near me. The Imp of the same name, except 
that his associations were all evil and these associations 
were all good, would have been a less troublesome travel- 



TRAVELS OF THE BOTTLE. 261 

ling companion. I might have served Mr. Cruikshank 
as a subject for a new illustration of the miseries of the 
Bottle. The National Temperance Society might have 
made a powerful Tract of me. 

The suspicions that attached to this innocent Bottle, 
greatly aggi'avated my difficulties. It was like the apple- 
pie in the child's book. Panna pouted at it, Modena 
mocked it, Tuscany tackled it, Naples nibbled it, Rome 
refused it, Austria accused it. Soldiers suspected it, 
Jesuits jobbed it. I composed a neat Oration, develop- 
ing my inoffensive intentions in connexion with this 
Bottle, and delivered it in an infinity of guard-houses, at 
a multitude of town gates, and on every drawbridge, 
angle, and rampart, of a complete system of fortifications. 
Fifty times a day, I got down to harangue an infuriated 
soldiery about the Bottle. Through the filthy degrada- 
tion of the abject and vile Roman States, I had as much 
difficulty in working my way with the Bottle, as if it had 
bottled up a complete system of heretical theology. In 
the Neapolitan countr}', where everybody was a spy, a 
soldier, a priest, or a lazzarone, the shameless beggars of 
all fom- denominations incessantly pounced on the Bottle 
and made it a pretext for extorting money from me. 
Quires — quires do I say? Reams — of forms illegibly 
printed on . whity-brown paper were filled up about the 
Bottle, and it was the subject of more stamping and 
sanding than I had ever seen before. In consequence of 
which haze of sand, perhaps, it was always irregular, and 
always latent with dismal penalties of going back or not 
going forward, which were only to be abated by the silver 



262 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

crossing of a base hand, poked shirtless out of a ragged 
uniform sleeve. Under all discouracjements, however, I 
stuck to my Bottle, and held firm to my resolution that 
every drop of its contents should reach the Bottle's desti- 
nation. 

The latter refinement cost me a separate heap of trou- 
bles on its own separate account. What corkscrews did 
I see the mihtary power bring out against that Bottle : 
what gimlets, spikes, divining rods, gauges, and unknown 
tests and instruments ! At some places, they persisted in 
declaring that the vnne must not be passed, without 
being opened and tasted; I, pleading to the contrary, 
used then to argue the question seated on the Bottle lest 
they should open it in spite of me. In the southern 
parts of Italy, more violent shrieking, face-making, and 
gesticulating, greater vehemence of speech and counte- 
nance and action, went on about that Bottle, than w^ould 
attend fifty murders in a northern latitude. It raised 
important functionaries out of their beds, in the dead of 
night. I have known half a dozen military lanterns to 
disperse themselves at all points of a great sleeping 
Piazza, each lantern summoning some official creature to 
get up, put on his cocked-hat instantly, and come and 
stop the Bottle. It was characteristic that while this 
innocent Bottle had such immense difficulty in getting 
from little town to town, Signor Mazzini and the fiery 
cross w^ere traversing Italy from end to end. 

Still, I stuck to my Bottle, like any fine old EngUsh 
gentleman all of the olden time. The more the Bottle 
yvas interfered ^vith, the stauncher I became (if possible) 



TRIU3IPH OF THE BOTTLE. 263 

in my first determination that my countryman should 
have it deHvered to him intact, as the man whom he had 
so nobly restored to life and liberty had delivered it to 
me. If ever I had been obstmate in my days — and I 
may have been, say, once or tmce — I was obstmate about 
the Bottle. But, I made it a rule always to keep a 
pocket full of small com at its service, and never to be 
out of temper in its cause. Thus, I and the Bottle made 
orn: way. Once, we had a break-down; rather a bad 
break-down, on a steep high place with the sea below 
us, on a tempestuous evening when it blew great guns. 
We were driving four wild horses abreast. Southern 
fashion, and there w^as some httle difficulty in stopping 
them. I was outside, and not thrown off ; but no words 
can describe my feehngs when I saw the Bottle — travel- 
ling inside, as usual — burst the door open, and roll obesely 
out into the road. A blessed Bottle with a charmed 
existence, he took no hurt, and we repau'ed damage, 
and w^ent on triumphant. 

A thousand representations were made to me that the 
Bottle must be left at this place, or that, and called for 
again. I never yielded to one of them, and never parted 
from the Bottle, on any pretence, consideration, threat, 
or entreaty. I had no faith in any official receipt for the 
Bottle, and nothing would induce me to accept one. 
These unmanageable pohtics at last brought me and the 
Bottle, still triumphant, to Genoa. There, I took a tender 
and reluctant leave of him for a few weeks, and consigned 
him to a trusty English captain, to be conveyed to the 
Port of London by sea. 



264 THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER. 

Wliile the Bottle was on his voyage to England^ I read 
the Shipping IntelKgence as anxiously as if I had been 
an undenmter. There was some stonny weather after 
I myself had got to England by way of Switzerland and 
France, and my mind greatly misgave me that the 
Bottle might be wrecked. At last to my great joy, 
I received notice of his safe arrival, and immediately 
went do^^^l to Saint Katharine's Docks, and found him in 
a state of honourable capti\'ity in the Custom House. 

The wine was mere vinegar when I set it down before 
the generous Enghshman — probably it had been some- 
thing like vinegar when I took it up from Giovanni 
Carlavero — but not a drop of it was spilled or gone. 
And the Englishman told me, vdth much emotion in his 
face and voice, that he had never tasted wine that seemed 
to him so sweet and sound. And long afterwards, the 
Bottle oTaced his table. And the last time I saw him in 
this world that misses him, he took me aside in a crowd, 
to say, with his amiable smile : " We were talking of you 
only to-day at dinner, and I ^^dshed you had been there, 
for I had some claret up in Carlavero's Bottle." 



THE END. 



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22. 
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